After a depressing 2020, the Joyce Raye Patterson 50+ Activity Center has bounced back in 2021.
The center, located at 100 S. 10th St., has seen increased visitor numbers to nearly all of its available classes and events. It’s a stark contrast to 2020.
“It was really sad,” said Julie Noel, manager of the Joyce Raye Patterson 50+ Activity Center. “I just wanted to cry for all the people who had nowhere to go and felt so alone.”
While the center remained open in 2020, it has reduced operations to protect its target community, which is most vulnerable to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people between the ages of 65 and 80 are more likely to get seriously ill if they contract it.
Throughout 2021, with the addition of COVID-19 vaccines, the center began to reopen. He’s brought back some of his classes and activities, from line dancing to mahjong, added a circuit exercise room, and is looking forward to some of his groups that disbanded in 2020 to reunite. Noel said the change in mood was palpable.
“We see that our numbers continue to improve,” Noel said.
As attendance improves, the center is keeping tabs on COVID-19 numbers, especially with the omicron variant. Over the past month, the City of St. Joseph’s Health Department has reported an increase in COVID-19 positivity rates, with Buchanan County designated as a hotspot by the Department of Health and Human Services. Missouri seniors.
Noel said that while the center has seen numbers drop with surges in the delta variant, the same has not happened with omicron.
“We really haven’t seen a lot of people staying away,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because people are just tired of staying at home, or if they feel better because they’re vaccinated, or if they don’t care. I really don’t know what the reasoning is.
The center encourages people to wear masks but does not require them. It also warns people to stay home if they are sick. Noel said many groups know their members well enough to know whether they are vaccinated or not.
“We have several groups in which everyone is vaccinated. And we have others where they are not,” she said.
Joyce Raye Patterson staff will continue to keep tabs on COVID-19 numbers to keep members safe to prevent customers from feeling isolated again. During the winter, Noel said the space provides a much-needed community with activities that most don’t incorporate into their daily routines.
“We have a lot of opportunities here to try to reach a variety of interest levels, fitness levels and we would just invite people to come and see what we are,” Noel said.
While Noel jokes that the facility, formerly known as Joyce Raye Patterson Senior Center, has had the misconception of being a retirement home and looks boring from the outside, it’s bustling with activity. And with the proper precautions, staff members are ensuring the community remains safe during the pandemic.
“If (seniors) are feeling down or anxious, now is the time to come explore and see what we have here. We sanitize very frequently and try to keep everyone safe,” Noel said. .
For more information on a Joyce Raye Patterson 50+ Activity Center membership, call 816-271-4666.