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Bonner Senior Center members celebrate facility's reopening
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Bonner Senior Center members celebrate facility's reopening

PORTAGE — With hearty handshakes and hugs, members of the Bonner Senior Center returned Monday for the center’s grand reopening picnic.

Shuttered for nearly 16 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center, operated by the Portage Township Trustee’s office, began offering a full slate of activities, including lunch, for Portage Township seniors Tuesday.

“It is great to be here and great to see you guys,” Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy told some 200 members who gathered under a large tent to enjoy each other’s company, food and music.

Clancy said safety is of the utmost importance for the seniors. Those who are not vaccinated will be asked to wear masks and to socially distance when possible. Clancy said guidelines have been put into place to keep seniors safe.

While the building was closed during this time, center director Robin Wilkening said staff continued to offer services to members. Each day they provided approximately 160 meals to members through either delivery or curbside pick-up.

Clancy thanked partner agencies, Northwest Indiana Community Action Corp., city of Portage, state of Indiana, Portage Township Schools and Portage Township YMCA, for helping provide services to seniors while the center was closed.

He also thanked the Portage Township Food Pantry and its director, Bobbie DeKemper, for stepping up during the height of the pandemic to provide food for seniors and others.

Wilkening said they also provided groceries to seniors during the winter and provided activities such as birthday gift cards, Valentine’s Day treats, St. Patrick’s Day music and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day recognition gifts during the curbside meal pick-up program.

Clancy also announced the newest project, the construction of an outdoor trail around the perimeter of the center’s property will begin in approximately two months.

The hard surface trail, which has been five years in planning with the input of center members, will be dotted with workout stations geared for seniors. The stations will be handicapped accessible. Donations from Northwest Indiana Community Action Corp., Samuelson Insurance and the center’s Ways and Means Committee is funding the exercise equipment.

The center, at 5800 Lexington Ave., Portage, will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Dues for Portage Township residents is $20 per year; out-of-township resident dues are $40 per year. The deadline to pay dues for 2022 is Dec. 1. Dues will not be required for the remainder of 2021.

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