If you asked the management team of the Normal Township Activity & Recreation Center (ARC) at the end of 2021 what we thought 2022 would bring for the center and for the 55+ community, I’m not sure any one of us would have known how to answer. The challenges and changes ARC navigated since the start of the pandemic in 2020 to keep members active and engaged taught us to be flexible, creative, and to expect the unexpected. What we did know as 2021 came to a close is that we were hopeful the new year would bring us the opportunity to rebuild our in-person programs, to welcome members back who we hadn’t seen in two years, and to continue to grow in new and exciting ways to bring whole-health wellness to our community.
The last nine months have truly exceeded any of those hopes and expectations.
Bonnie’s Café is once again a bustling space full of friends conversing over a cup of coffee, and the dining room fills with groups enjoying Peace Meal lunch together. Weekly bingo in the Rec Room has again grown to welcome over 70 members who enjoy the thrill of competing for a prize. And the art and card game spaces fill day-to-day with new members and long-term members alike looking to hone their craft or try something new.
In the last year, ARC has been fortunate enough to see membership grow by over 1,000 and to now exceed 2,700 active members. In June 2022, this growth allowed ARC to expand staffing and hours of operation to include evenings four days a week and Friday programming once again. The center is now open Monday – Thursday 7am to 7pm and Friday and Saturday 8am to 1pm.
With this expansion in hours comes an expansion in Friday, Saturday, and evening programming along with exciting new partnerships with community organizations. ARC now offers a Funtastic Friday cross-training class with Nancy Norkiewicz, a Local Interest Speaker Series on the third Friday of each month, which has included presenters like Bill Kemp from McLean County Museum of History and Teri Ryburn of Ryburn Place, and a variety of new fitness options such as Active Group Training, Easy-Going Group Training, and evening fitness equipment orientations twice a month with ARC’s personal trainer Scott Richardson. We’ve also welcomed back Lucy Croft for several Zumba® fitness classes and Ada Rediger for a full slate of yoga classes to meet the needs of members at all levels of mobility and fitness. ARC is also proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association for a new support group for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.
Normal Township and ARC have so much to celebrate this September during National Senior Center Month after a year of strong growth and reconnection with our members. We look forward to offering outdoor programs like drive-in bingo and an outdoor concert in our newly renovated greenspace and to the kickoff of our annual Build the ARC fundraising campaign for 2022.
With the first phase of the greenspace project now complete, this year’s Build the ARC Campaign for the ARC Living Memorial Fund will focus on beautifying the space with native plants, shrubs, and flowers and furnishing the space to make it functional for a variety of outdoor programs. Donors from September through the end of the year can also choose to make a gift in support of fitness programming or classroom upgrades and additions or general support to help ensure a strong future for ARC in the years to come. If every member gave just $30, or the equivalent of a year-long membership at ARC, the ARC Living Memorial Fund could raise over $80,000 to support the future growth of ARC and its efforts to make a difference in the lives of those 55 and older. Donations to the Build the ARC Campaign can be made at ARC, on ARC’s website at www.activityandrecreationcenter.org, or on ARC’s Facebook page using handle @ARCNomal.
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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