John Justick, now a dedicated member of the Normal Township Activity and Recreation Center (ARC), a center exclusively for adults 55 and up, began his membership during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2021, and immediately began participating in a variety of Zoom-based programs over the internet. He tried his luck in virtual bingo, picked up new recipes and shared his own favorites during Foodie Group, and sharpened his technology skills by participating in ARC Tech Club. But the Zoom program he found most beneficial was Mindfulness Meditation.
“The meditation class was especially good because it kept me from being isolated and I could talk with others—basically the same people with regularity. The ability to talk and express feelings about life was important,” said Justick. ARC has become an important part of John’s daily life.
This September, ARC is excited to celebrate National Senior Center Month while continuing to invest in a strong senior community and programs that enrich the lives of aging adults.
The public is invited to celebrate National Senior Center Month and the reopening of the ARC building for in-person activities by attending a Grand Reopening event on September 18th from 10am to 12pm. Come tour the facility, including 3,500 square feet of newly renovated first and second-floor activity space, learn more about the history of Normal Township’s three decades of seniors services that grew to become ARC, and see some of ARC’s fun programs in action. The talented ARCoustic Jammers will be providing musical entertainment. The group members bring their guitars, ukuleles, banjos, and more to ARC weekly to play and sing together in the company of friends, and they can’t wait to bring their energy to the grand reopening event while welcoming the community to listen, sing, or even play along.
ARC’s building was closed to in-person activities from March 2020 – April 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading staff to pivot to digital programming offered live on Zoom with opportunities to interact daily with both instructors and other members. Zoom program participation exceeded all expectations and provided hundreds of seniors access to exercise classes, meditation and support groups, music programs, bingo, art classes, and more during a time when nothing was more critical than keeping people safe and engaged. Several of these virtual programs are so popular that they continue to be available remotely even now that the building has reopened, including Mindfulness Meditation, Tai Chi, and Beginner’s Qigong & Taiji.
While running remote programming for seniors in 2020, ARC served the good of the whole county by using the building to host blood drives with the American Red Cross, providing hundreds of lifesaving units of blood, and partnering with Carle BroMenn Hospital and the McLean County Health Department to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics where more than 4,000 community members eager to see their family, travel, and return to a sense of normalcy were able to receive their vaccinations.
To reduce costs at the center, the Normal Township Trustees partnered with the Illinois Solar For All Program to install a 784-panel solar array on the roof at ARC that has led to a 99 percent reduction in the electric bill.
“Our building has now reopened, and we will be proud to participate in National Senior Center Month. The commitment to your physical and cognitive health is our number one priority. When you’re an active ARC member, the saying, ‘…age is nothing but a number’ has new meaning,” said ARC Director of Operations Rick Lewis.
ARC Membership is only $30 per year and is open to anyone age 55 or older. To celebrate National Senior Center Month during the month of September, ARC will be offering members a variety of programs:
ARC Social Dance, September 1st – 6pm – 8pm: Help us kickoff National Senior Center Month and ARC’s annual Build the ARC Campaign at our first social dance offered since 2019. Cost to attend is $5. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Brad Olson, and treats will be provided by Evergreen Senior Living.
McLean County Museum of History Photo Reminiscence, September 8th – 10am: Participants examine enlarged historical photos from throughout the local area and are encouraged to chat about cruising on Route 66, shopping in Downtown Bloomington, dining at Steak ‘n Shake, and visiting other places from their past.
Exercise Class with Nancy Norkiewicz; Drumming, September 18th – 10am – 11am: The act of drumming has been found to be effective for balancing out the right and left-brain hemispheres. Using drumsticks and stability balls, you’ll have a BALL pounding out and creating your own moving, musical masterpiece. The beat will energize your body, mind, and spirit. Cost for this single 60 minute class is $6.
Matter of Balance – Session Zero Informational, September 23rd – 1:30pm – 2:30pm: Taking place during Falls Prevention Awareness Week, Session Zero allows participants to learn the myths and realities of falls, share their experiences, learn about A Matter of Balance curriculum and exercises, and register for the class starting October 5.
Normal Police Department Scam & Fraud Prevention Presentation, September 22nd – 10:30am: Join us for a 30-minute presentation with Officer Brad Park of the Normal Police Department.
Yoga Nidra, September 27th – 4pm – 5:30pm
Medicare Drug Coverage Presentation, September 23rd, 10am: Presentation given by Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselors.
Senior Care Network Bingo, September 30th – 1pm
Travel Sampler with Collette Vacations, September 30th – 11am: Learn more about upcoming travel opportunities in 2022 and 2023 with ARC and Collette Vacations: California Dreamin – Monterey, Yosemite, Napa in July 2022 with extension to San Francisco offered; Heritage of America – Philadelphia to Washington DC in October 2022; Magical Christmas Markets – Austria and Germany in December 2022; Tropical Costa Rica in February 2023 with extension to Tortuguero offered.
National Senior Center Month also kicks off ARC’s annual “Build the ARC” fundraising campaign. Fundraising efforts will again focus on an outdoor, green space for programs. The project is expected to break ground this fall, creating a safe, accessible, and inviting outdoor space for ARC members to enjoy activities. The outdoor space became all the more important during the pandemic when indoor programs were discouraged. Once completed, the space will include accessible walking paths, raised garden beds, native plants, a large patio, and lawn. Members are excited to see this new dimension of programming take shape, providing opportunities to get active outdoors and experience the therapeutic benefits of nature. Join the journey and help continue to “Build the ARC” for the enjoyment of those 55 and up by making a donation to ARC!
To learn more about ARC, call 309-888-9099 or stop by to tour the center at 600 E Willow in Normal. ARC is open Monday and Wednesday from 6:30am – 7pm, Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30am – 4pm, and Saturdays 8am – 4pm. From pickleball to Peace Meal, card games to cardio workouts, ARC has something for everyone to enjoy while connecting with peers and celebrating aging!
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