Leavenworth is fortunate to have at least three senior centers to keep us seniors busy throughout the week. I recently re-discovered the senior center at the Riverfront Community Center. They meet from 11 a.m. to noon on Mondays. I was lucky to be invited to give a talk about the Nez Perce and join them for a potluck lunch.
As I explained to them, as the natural resources specialist at Fort Leavenworth for 37 years, I was also responsible for managing the lands on which the Nez Perce were incarcerated in 1877-1878 and for ensuring the integrity of the burial grounds that resulted from that incarceration.
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, requires that we keep in touch with those native nations who may have resided on or are buried on federal lands. There are plenty of other provisions of the law, but basically I developed a strong, personal relationship with the Nez Perce first as a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council and then by working with the forest service to ensure that the Nez Perce were kept apprised of any significant earthwork that might have to be done in the vicinity of their graves.
I was glad to get the invitation to speak to the folks at the senior center and discovered that most of us were already quite familiar with each other through our contacts and from 4-H, woodworking, neighbors and other activities. So, I felt very comfortable and the lunch was great.
The one problem for me is that they meet at the same time as our ukulele club which meets at the Council on Aging. Someone had the idea to ask the ukulele club group to join the senior center group on a Monday to enjoy a program of ukulele music and maybe even tie it into a program about Hawaii. Sounds good to me.
The Council on Aging, of course, is a much larger program when it comes to serving seniors in Leavenworth County. It includes the Meals on Wheels program and it offers a bunch of programs at the center on Rees and Broadway. Programs include things like yoga and tai chi, woodcarving, computers, etc. The complete list of activities, programs and field trips are included regularly in the Leavenworth Times.
The other place which is great for seniors but which is not limited to seniors is the Heritage Center at the end of Delaware. The parking is great and one of my boys was heavily involved in building that wonderful stage that is a real asset to the city. Marilyn Kay Parsons donated enough funds to build an outstanding kitchen and the combination of the kitchen, stage and large room means that there are a lot of activities for everything happening there.
The Heritage Center is the de facto country opry venue in the city, but it also supports gospel singing shows and a big band once in a while. I think that if there were time in the schedule, there could be live performances on stage, too. I know that they are scheduled for many weddings and other affairs and they stay busy.
As I pointed out to the seniors at the Nez Perce talk, we in Leavenworth are really blessed to have these three centers that provide a wide range of activities and events not only for seniors, but also for their families and friends. It is often said that those who have an active social life are more likely to live a healthy adult life, so if you are not already involved in any of the senior centers, please make contact with one or all and get started.
Matt Nowak is a retired natural resources specialist and lives in Lansing.