While the last few years brought many pandemic-related challenges, ARC has continued to serve members through a variety of programs, new and well-loved, that help keep the 55+ community of Bloomington-Normal active and engaged.
Our Local Interest Speaker Series, a monthly offering that connects members to experts on a wide array of McLean County topics, including circus, Route 66, paranormal activity, war heroes, and more, regularly fills the Auditorium with over 50 history buffs eager to learn something new. And our Harmon Arts Grant-funded Intro to the Arts Series has succeeded in introducing artists of all skill levels to unique, new ways to engage in the arts. Members have learned about the basics of digital photography and enjoyed the Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra and have created fused glass holiday décor, origami, fluid acrylics, and watercolor cards for veterans in just the first few months of the program. In March members had the opportunity to learn the basics of jewelry making and to take home an eclectic pin to add to their wardrobe. The fused glass classes were so popular that ARC has now offered two additional classes using the medium.
It’s clear the many partnerships that ARC maintains with community organizations truly make a difference in the success of the center and in the lives of the people we serve. As we celebrate year seven, we also celebrate the many volunteers and staff of programs like OSF Peace Meal, VITA, Normal Public Library, Carle BroMenn, The Red Cross, Community Care Systems Inc., and the McLean County Health Department for helping us provide the daily lunches, tax assistance, access to reading materials, support groups, blood drives, and vaccination clinics that members have counted on for years. We’re also thankful for the support of the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging and the Illinois Department on Aging that has more recently allowed ARC to expand through the hiring of Barb Dallinger as our Sunshine Program Coordinator. Welcoming Barb to the ARC team will allow the center to better stay connected to homebound community members and to provide them with crucial support to lessen feelings of social isolation. In addition to all these wonderful partnerships, the ARC team is also excited to once again welcome Illinois State University Mennonite College of Nursing faculty and staff to offer blood pressure screenings, mental health evaluations, wellness education, relaxation massage, and more.
The ARC team has much to celebrate as spring begins to sweep in and we reach our seventh anniversary of serving seniors on April 26th. With the first phase of the greenspace project now complete and outdoor furniture now purchased, we look forward to beautifying the space with native plants, shrubs, and flowers with the help of $2,500 provided by the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation’s Go Green Frautschi/Bedell grant and to a fun slate of outdoor programs to come as the weather continues to warm!
We’re also looking forward to celebrating ARC’s seventh anniversary with our members and the community. An open house-style event is scheduled for Thursday, April 27th from 10am to 12pm. You’re invited to attend for the opportunity to purchase new ARC gear and to enjoy entertainment, treats, and the chance to spin to win on ARC’s prize wheel. There will also be raffle prizes up for grabs. For the month of April, members who would like to give back in honor of ARC’s seventh anniversary are encouraged to make a donation to the ARC Living Memorial Fund in support of the aspects of ARC that mean the most to them—the green space project, fitness programming, classroom updates, and upgrades or general support. Make a gift of $49 April 1 through the 30th—$7 for each year ARC has served local seniors—and help us kickstart our journey to reaching our biggest 2023 goals! Gifts can be made at ARC, at www.activtyandrecreationcenter.org, or on ARC’s Facebook page by searching the handle @ARCNormal.
To learn more about ARC, call 309-888-9099 or stop by to tour the center at 600 E Willow Street in Normal. ARC is open Monday through Thursday, 7am – 7pm and Friday & Saturday, 8am – 1pm. From pickleball to Peace Meal and card games to cardio workouts, ARC has something for everyone to enjoy while connecting with peers and celebrating aging!
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