“May your heart always be busy, may your song always be sung. And may you stay, may you stay, forever young.”
In his 1973 song “Forever Young,” the great Bob Dylan created a timeless ode about the joys and challenges we all face as we grow older. Rather than dwell on any negatives, Dylan crafted his lyrics to project an inspiring view of aging in which, despite our physical changes, our spirits remain “forever young.”
Dylan’s optimistic views on aging are embodied every day at the Hendersonville Senior Citizens Center. Chartered in 1968, the center provides area residents who are 50 and older, a place to go that offers a variety of physical, mental and emotional activities designed to keep them active. Thanks to the efforts of executive director Julie White and her board and volunteers, the center has become the go-to place for seniors looking to make friends, participate in group activities and pursue new interests.
“At the Hendersonville Senior Citizens Center, we offer a safe and inviting community that tries to have something for everyone,” Julie says. “We offer an ever-changing monthly schedule filled with activities such as karate, bridge, yoga, tai chi, dancing and classes on such topics as computer literacy and Spanish.”
Currently, the center has 1,077 members, ranging in age from 50 to 96. Approximately half of the membership is active on a regular basis, participating in one or more events each month.
“We reach out to our members on a regular basis to make sure they are OK,” Julie says. “Our goal is to keep our members active and involved for as long as they are able.”
Like all nonprofit agencies, the Hendersonville Senior Citizens Center is dependent upon the generosity of its funding sources. Approximately 47 percent of the center’s income comes from government sources (federal, state, county and city). The remaining revenue comes from the United Way, corporate and individual donations and annual fundraising events, such as the spring chili cook-off.
“Funding is always a challenge,” Julie says. “We only charge our clients a $2 per week membership fee, so we have to raise all of the money that we can to remain a viable entity.”
Despite the daily challenges, Julie remains passionate about her nonprofit mission.
“Managing in the nonprofit world is about helping others and feeling good about what you do,” she says. “Providing social services is what I was born to do.”
Julie also realizes that the center is not just a one-person show. She is quick to give credit to and express her gratitude to all of the people who help make the center possible.
“I have been blessed by being surrounded with an abundance of people who truly care. I have the best board of directors, supporters and volunteers of any organization in our community.”
Recently, the center has undertaken a renovation project designed to provide several much-needed improvements, including a new roof, decorative lighting, enhanced access doors and a new covered patio.
“Like any organization, we have to reinvest in our facilities to keep them up to date,” Julie says. “Our members deserve the best we can give them.”
Ultimately, Julie’s long-term goal is to ensure that the center has the right blend of secure funding sources to be able to meet the needs of future generations of senior citizens.
“When it is time for my generation to stop working, I want there to still be a place for us to go,” she says.
Life: It’s happening at the Hendersonville Senior Citizen Center. Come join the fun!
197 Imperial Blvd., Hendersonville