Approximately 30 members of the ‘Copa Seniors and Maricopa Seniors, Inc., a fundraising group, met last week to tour their new facility, the Copa Center, which will provide the seniors with a permanent home.
One of Maricopa's needs, identified by the Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens (PGCSC), was a senior center. Other areas of need included transportation, not only to medical appointments, but also for the elderly and disabled, local jobs, assisted living facilities, as well as subsidized, affordable housing. In addition, communication about and coordination of available services is something seniors need and want.
By 2030 the U. S. senior population (65+) will more than double to about 71.5 million, according to the Administration on Aging (AOA). That same year the 85+ population is projected to be 9.6 million, making that age group the fastest growing population in America.
As a nation, America is justifiably concerned with its youth, its future generations of workers, parents and leaders. But what about senior citizens? For the next 15 years, one Baby Boomer will turn 60 every 7.5 seconds, according to AOA. Maricopa’s senior population is also growing. ‘Copa Seniors, which began with 12 members in 2008, now has approximately 100 members.
The tour of the new Copa Center, organized by councilman Marvin Brown, showcased the recently renovated vacant church located behind La Roca Night Club on Honeycutt Road. The city of Maricopa purchased the property for $170,000 and put an additional $30,000 into improvements, including carpeting and air conditioning.
At their Sept. 21 meeting, city council approved the purchase, at a cost of $60,750, of the lot to the east of the center to provide 30 parking spaces. "Parking has been a major roadblock to the functionability of this facility," said Mayor Anthony Smith at the council meeting.
“The cost to acquire the lot next door is pretty much fixed, but the other costs are estimates based upon our experiences with other projects,” said assistant city manager Roger Kolman via e-mail. “The other costs are estimates based upon our experiences with other projects. The total may be more or less, depending upon bids, what kind of drainage issues the engineers discover when they go to design the parking lot, and what we find once the mobile home has been removed from the lot. So, the estimates for the part of the project on the property next door are very preliminary and are really a best case scenario that should be treated as such until the engineers have had an opportunity to do their work.
Those estimates include the removal of the existing building and septic ($6,000), engineering and design of the parking lot ($6,000), paving and striping of the lot ($20,000) and landscaping ($2,000).
Seniors will have the use of the Copa Center five days each week from approximately 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Youth groups and their activities will be scheduled during the remaining hours each Monday through Friday.
“It’s all good,” said Joan Koczor, referring to the city’s decision to allow the seniors to use the facility.
The new Copa Center has two large rooms; the first is a carpeted area with a raised platform or stage, which will be used for meetings. The second room, which is not carpeted, is quite spacious. “This will be where we have our line dancing classes,” said one of the ladies on the tour.
A small kitchen with new cupboards and countertops will meet the refreshment requirements for the group. As yet there is no refrigerator, but the seniors are hoping to get one donated.
“This is marvelous,” said Rita Fonder. “It’s just great. Everybody is so excited.”
“It’s really good to get people out from in front of their televisions and get them involved,” said Marge Kavanagh. That involvement is possible through the many activities the ‘Copa Seniors social group currently provides and will be able to add now that they have a permanent location to utilize.
Activities include card games like poker, pinochle and bridge, as well as board games. Genealogy, arts and crafts, Bunco, weight loss classes, yoga and Tai Chi are all being scheduled for the new center, and, of course, the very popular line dancing classes.
In addition, the seniors have both a reading club and a men’s club, and they organize travel tours for members.
Silver Sneakers fitness classes, which are often paid for through insurance wellness plans, are held on Thursdays at 8 a.m. and Saturdays at 10:15 a.m. at Anytime Fitness. A level 2 and 3 cardio workout has been added for those who want a more rigorous workout; it meets Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. at Anytime Fitness.
‘Copa Seniors hold their general meetings at 9:15 a.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at Anytime Fitness, 20924 N John Wayne Pkwy. (Park in the rear and use door D7 to enter.) The meeting is followed by games, cards and socializing. For additional information, contact Carol Grandfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joan Koczor at email@example.com or 520-494-7605.
Maricopa’s seniors hope to be in their new home, the Copa Center, shortly after the first of the year.
Photos by Joyce Hollis