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BURLINGTON — Our Harmony Club Assistant Director Christine Scott said that the first week she saw the inside of the former Knights of Columbus building, now the new Burlington Senior Center, she knew there was a lot of work to be done.

Fortunately, the center had a lot of volunteers to undertake the project.

“They had tons of people cleaning and painting,” said Scott. “It’s amazing to see all the people come together.”

This week, the new facility at 587 E. State St., opened to the public. Burlington Senior Center Board President Kevin Brierly and General Manager Pat Kendall said after the pipes froze at the Western Racine County Service Center building, 209 N. Main St., after New Year’s, volunteers of all ages pitched in some elbow grease to help get the Knights of Columbus building in shape.

New ceiling panels were donated and installed, plumbing and electricity had to be updated and every wall was given a fresh coat of paint.

Brierly said one 93-year-old donated hours of her time painting the walls.

“Since she couldn’t play cards, she thought she’d come on down,” he said.

Card club christening

This week at the new facility kicked off with Chocolate City Card Club, which had about 20 members come in Tuesday. Bingo, held on the second Thursday of the month, also drew a pretty good crowd. Kendall said they have received quite a few comments about how nice the new space is.

“We love it,” she said.

Brierly said that the location, access and parking are also a big improvement.

With the new building, the center is planning on doing more regular fundraising to cover its rent. The city bought the Knights of Columbus building and is in the process of finalizing the lease.

Kendall has organized quite a few fundraisers, including bus trips, raffles and a sausage sale. Later this month, she has planned a trip to Sheboygan Falls and in March, she’s putting together a bus trip for participants to see “Newsies” at The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson. In fact, Kendall is leaving her position as manager at the end of February in order to devote more time organizing fundraisers.

Other groups relieved

For the other organizations run out of the center, having it reopen is a big relief. Meals on Wheels is resuming its regular food preparation and delivery out of the center’s kitchen. The center is also holding its meal program in the afternoons.

Our Harmony Club, which operates out of the center, provides social day programs for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia, giving their caretakers a day off. When the county service center went out of commission, Scott reached out to Reineman’s True Value Hardware, owner of the former Chestnut Club building at 165 W. Chestnut St., which Reineman’s uses as a rental space.

Reineman’s volunteered to let Our Harmony use the space until the new Senior Center was up and running. A group of volunteers, including kids from St. Charles Catholic School, helped Our Harmony move in to its temporary space.

Our Harmony Club had its first day at the new Senior Center on Wednesday, and Scott said because of the large layout, it could probably take in four or five more participants.

More programs eyed

Brierly and Kendall are also looking at expanding the center’s programs in the new space. With doors between the larger and smaller spaces, Brierly said the center could easily run two programs at the same time, or just reserve the smaller space for socializing and card playing.

“We’re going to start brainstorming,” said Brierly.

Brierly said he’d like to see more arts and crafts. Kendall said the center has a dartboard and bean bag toss kit that have been sitting in storage.

“We have some things we haven’t used because we haven’t had the space,” said Kendall.

Brierly said when the weather gets warmer, he would like to see a horseshoe toss and other activities set up outside.

“We want to get them out and get them moving,” he said.

The center also planning on holding an open house sometime in April when the weather is warmer.

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Christina Lieffring covers the Burlington area and the Village of Caledonia. Before moving to Racine, she lived in Nebraska, Beijing, Chicago and grew up in Kansas City.

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