Copperas Cove Senior Center reopens with new director
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Dozens of seniors made themselves at home in the main room of the Copperas Cove Senior Activity Center Wednesday morning, as the center reopened to the public.
Wednesday’s reopening offered the senior citizens and other members of the community a chance to take a look around the Senior Center, which has gone through some changes in the front room, including the downsizing of the number of books on the bookshelves and overall streamlining of the forms of entertainment available in that space.
Mayor Dan Yancey gave a brief speech during the reopening.
“I just want to say on behalf of the city and staff and everybody that’s here today, we’re so glad this is finally open,” Yancey said. “I have to tell you that whenever y’all came to talk about the Senior Center, it was really moving, and we wanted this to happen. We’re so glad, grateful, happy that you’re happy, and that makes the difference. Going through life, enjoying life, being happy, being with friends, is the most important thing that anybody can possibly have for themselves.”
Wednesday’s reopening also provided the opportunity for the community and the senior citizens to meet the new Community Outreach Specialist, Roberta “Robbie” Willie.
Willie was hired May 9 and has spent the past several weeks, with volunteers Bo Roldan and Mary Gonzales, “turning the place upside down” to get the Senior Center ready to reopen.
“I call them my Energizer bunnies. I can’t believe how hard those ladies worked,” Willie said. “We’ve worked blood, sweat and tears to get this place what it is today, and there’s still some kinks that we need to iron out. I need to still get familiarized with a lot of things to make it run smooth, as smooth as it can get, but I’m looking forward to it and looking forward to making this very successful for the seniors and making it a happy, fun place for them.”
Willie said she planned to dive right in after the catered breakfast Wednesday morning to collaborate with the senior citizens and find out what activities they want their Senior Activity Center to offer.
Willie has a degree in criminal justice and worked as a juvenile probation officer for many years in both Bell and Coryell counties. She also worked for Communities in Schools, helping at risk youth and their families.
“It’s always been for the community,” Willie said. “Coming into assisting seniors, elderly, still, they’re a part of the community. It’s just something I’ve always been passionate about. I’m rooted here, and my job is to help the community, and this center is part of the community. “ One of the many senior citizens at the grand reopening was Nancy Hersum. Hersum is recently widowed and new to Copperas Cove, she said.
“I’m very excited to be here in Copperas Cove. It’s a great area; however, there hasn’t been very many things for me to do, so I’m very excited that this center will be reopening for the seniors,” Hersum said. “I’m recently widowed, and this will give me some place safe to go and have fun.”
The dates for various programs are under consideration and are being revamped, but senior citizens are welcome to come to the Senior Activity Center during its hours of operation, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“That was one of the biggest things that the seniors were talking about how they just needed some normalcy, and this is their normalcy,” Willie said about the hours resuming. “A lot of the seniors were getting depressed. They didn’t have an outlet, so this is going to be really good for their morale.”
The Senior Center had closed its doors in March 2022, following the departure of its Community Outreach Specialist, forcing the city’s senior citizens to have to move from place to place in order to socialize.
Other organizations such as the VFW Post #8577, the Copperas Cove Public Library, and the Refuge Corporation offered the senior citizens a place to get together during this time.
The Senior Center then reopened its doors on a modified schedule on April 7, while the city still looked for a replacement Community Outreach Specialist, until a water break forced the center to close again on April 26.