NILES - The Niles SCOPE Senior Center celebrated its 20th anniversary on June 24 at their current location, 14 E. State St. in downtown Niles. A free luncheon, live band, and a speech by Mayor Ralph Infante were part of the festivities.
The senior center has been around since 1977, originally located in the Masonic Temple, before moving to the current location in 1994.
The Niles center is one of six Trumbull County SCOPE locations and is a private nonprofit organization serving the elderly. Funded by the Trumbull County senior services levy, the organization's centers are paid by all land-owning residents in the county.
The Niles Times / David Roberts
Niles SCOPE Co directors Judy Fabian and Ray Novotny stand in front of a table featuring memorabilia depicting the center’s last 20 years.
Currently, the senior center's membership fees are $15 for a single person or $25 for a couple.
Co-directors Judy Fabian and Ray Novotny both find a sense of joy and wonderment working with the attending seniors.
"I get so much more than I give," Fabian said. "I learn something every day from these people. They each have stories to tell, and they are some of the best stories."
Novotny has been with the Niles center for 10 years and said when he first started working there, around 10,000 guests entered the center a year. Now, around 35,000 guests visit the center annually.
Some popular activities are various forms of exercise, quilting, cards, informational sessions, and the occasional travel.
Fabian and Novotny explained that they never know what activities will be more popular than others, but more often than not, the activities are received with eagerness from the patrons.
The senior center does more than just offer a location for activities, it provides another home. The staff and volunteers relieve loneliness and are a source of inspiration and strength.
"The center specializes in four areas: socialization, health and education, physical activity, and supportive services," Novotny said.
After 50 years of service, SCOPE's mission remains the same. Through informational sessions and supportive services, the centers help educate members on personal and health issues, risks and scams, and the beauty of friendship at any age.
With more than 700 members ranging from age 50 to 100, the Niles center is a place for seniors to stay active and make friends, but more importantly, learn about the programs and assistance available.
Recently, the Guardian Angels of Trumbull County visited the SCOPE in Niles to discuss the Vial of Life program, which provides medical responders and doctors with a person's medical information in case of an emergency. The Guardians are trained volunteers who promote health, safety and independence.
The senior center is also a big part of the Niles community. Aside from cooperating with other local organizations, it often partakes in special community events, including Harry Stevens Hot Dog Day.
For the past 37 years, the SCOPE family's tradition has been assisting a member and a community in need, and the Niles senior center reflects that every day.