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Annual meeting shares involvement, a look into 2016

By Staff | Dec 23, 2015

The annual Island Seniors Membership Meeting attracted dignitaries, as well as members, Friday, Dec. 11, as information of how well the center did last year was shared and what’s in store for 2016.

President Tom Ledgerwood said the Senior Center is somewhat unique and important because primarily what they offer is fun for its 730 members.

With feedback from it’s members, he said they are searching for more volunteers, so they can add additional activities.

“One of the things we are kind of looking at is we have had some request for bingo,” Ledgerwood said. “I can tell you that we are not interested in having a bingo game here for profit. This is a recreational activity and we would like to run it a couple times to see if there is interest, people like it and how we should do it. The problem is we need people to help.”

Three or four volunteers are being sought.

Board Member Shirley Schulz revealed the results of a survey that was issued a few months ago. She said 227 members responded to the survey, which is more than 30 percent of their membership.

“Our goal was to find out more about the membership and what kind of things they participated in. What kinds of ideas they had for improvements and enhancements and maybe new activities and offerings,” Schulz said.

A portion of the survey included a list of the activities and offerings the center provides.

“Out of the 227, 130 people took part in fitness classes,” Schulz said. “The second highest were theater tickets. Third and fourth were arts and crafts followed by kayaking.”

According to Program Manager Trish Phillips, 7,138 attended such fitness classes as happy hour, essential total fitness and power hour. Yoga also had a strong attendance of 2,560.

Out of the 15 fitness classes offered a week, attendance rose to 9,698 through November.

Phillips said a total of 626 individuals participated in kayaking. The program was expanded to two days a week.

Schulz said they were not surprised to learn that the survey revealed individuals wanting more fitness options.

“That meant some different kinds of things and more classes of what we are offering today,” she said. “Given the feedback, as well as the numbers we saw in October and November, we were able to add the 11 (a.m.) on essential total fitness class starting Nov. 30. So, we have a 9:30 (a.m.) Monday, Wednesday and Friday and usually starting in January we have an 11 (a.m.).”

Another question on the survey asked for any talent, skill or expertise that individual’s would want to share with Senior Center members.

“We got over 25 people that said, ‘yeah I know how to do line dancing. I could teach French. I could talk about gardening,'” Schulz said.

Figures were also shared on how well the annual Trash & Treasure sale did this year, which was record breaking. Phillips said the ladies and volunteers that dedicated their time to the sale brought in more than $13,000.

“Thank you to everyone here who has helped out, whether you picked something up for us, ran a program, filled in whenever we needed it,” she said. “You guys are wonderful. To me the most amazing thing is when we get a new member walk in the door. You immediately accept them and start telling them all about the programs that you all have here. You are terrific ambassadors for the island seniors.”

Mayor Kevin Ruane, as well as all five council members, attended the annual members meeting.

“We are thrilled in what you all do here. Honestly it is really the initiative that came from so many people like yourselves to realize that you want more quality of life and for the community to be with you during that,” he said.

Ruane shared information about the Civic Core, a concept of a town center that has evolved through a conceptual plan approved by the council.

“We have got down to square footage and we are navigating through the cost estimates,” he said. “We believe we are very close to the cost for this to work.”

The cost will be covered by a contribution from BIG ARTS, the city taking on the responsibility of building the Senior Center portion and the remaining funds coming from across the bridge.

Ruane explained that Sanibel receives about 13 cents to the dollar, with approximately 26 cents going to Lee County. The remaining monies goes to schools and the fire district. He said his job is to get some of the 26 cents back to Sanibel.

“It amounts to about $21 million a year that we pay to Lee County,” Ruane said. “Our concept is really the Civic Core and what we are trying to do is put together not only the costs associated with it, but how it would operate.”

He received support from Lee County mayors about seven years ago when they formed a coalition.

“When we do have an opportunity to go before the Lee County commissioners as an agenda item, all mayors will be there to support our initiative,” Ruane said.

Once the final figures are determined, he said a referendum will be pieced together for the community, which is anticipated to be given in 2016.

“The concept was really to have a town center concept where we can have a walkable community, adequate parking to reduce traffic and congestion on Periwinkle,” Ruane said.

The property, where the Town Center is anticipated to built, is on 26 acres off of Dunlap Road.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to not only invest back in the island, but invest in your future,” he said. “It is really something that we all want to see come together and by at large you the voter will make that happen if that is what you want.”

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.