The West Jordan Senior Citizens Center is crowded with crafts, quilts, dolls, tables, a TV, a pool table, a piano, a wood shop and an assortment of boxes.
There's barely enough room for the kitchen, let alone 300 members.Since the day the center opened in 1991, members say they have been cramped in this renovated single-family home at 8101 S. 2200 West. The dining room seats only 48 people. Crafts and projects quickly spread throughout the home, forcing the group to set up craft rooms in a basement that is not wheelchair accessible.
Most of the group's members don't come to the center anymore; fighting the crowd for a seat at the table just isn't worth it for most.
After four years of rapid growth, the West Jordan Senior Citizens Center received approval and funding from the city for a new home. They settled on a big, red-brick LDS church just north of City Hall. The city has secured $507,500 in funds from community development block grants for the purchase of the church, and the purchase should be completed soon.
"We're within a week or 10 days of closing on the deal," said City Manager Dan Dahlgren. "Then we'll get in and do a full assessment of what needs to be done."
The city expects to make a few renovations once the building is purchased. "The senior center has different needs than a church," said Dahlgren. "We'll do a few things for the kitchen to make sure the seniors can get their luncheon meal. There may a few other things."
Dalhgren said the senior citizens should be moving within the next several months. News of the move couldn't delight the senior citizens more.
Coordinators of the center hope to see more people coming out after the move. "Now, we're too crowded, too noisy," said Vyrl Jean McKee, vice chairwoman of the center. "Noise makes a lot of them confused and upset."
Klea Ernst, site coordinator, said a bigger center will enable members to spread out more and participate in different activities.
"Some people like to come and just watch TV or do puzzles," said Ernst.
But this home isn't just a hangout for senior citizens. The members feel more like family than friends. The center opens every Tuesday and Thursday morning and afternoon for lunch, bingo and various activities. Members say the center gives them a chance to get out of their houses and socialize.
"We have a lot of people who don't ever do anything except with the center," she said. "When you're alone, a lot of people are afraid to go out. But here, we see changes in people."
McKee said her mother often came to the center before she passed away last spring. "She was 991/2, and she didn't eat much, but when she came here she would eat. And she would sit and watch everyone while she crocheted hot pads. Now, we all look at that chair and feel her loss."
Zella Roberts has been coming to the center every Tuesday and Thursday for three years. Since her husband passed away six years ago, she's kept herself busy and entertained at the center.
"I'm over the quilts," she said over a plate full of pork, potatoes and veggies.
The quilt room Roberts oversees is slightly larger than the quilting frames. Four or five die-hard quilters squeeze in to work on quilts for donation to the Boy's Ranch or the battered women's shelter.
In the next room, McKee has started a group making Christmas door ornaments, while her husband, Max, sands and saws in the wood shop.
"There's a lot that goes on in this little place," said Ernst. "We're all excited to have a bigger building."