Kay Hind, executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging, was honored for her part in establishing the council’s new Senior Life Enrichment Center on Society Avenue. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — The grand opening of the long-awaited Senior Life Enrichment Center took place Thursday at 335 W. Society Ave — a dream come true for Kay Hind, executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging.
Speaking at the dedication were local and state dignitaries including Council Board President Lorie Farkas; Joel Wernick, CEO of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital; Jay Bulot, state director of Division of Aging Services; Kenneth Cutts, a staffer at the office of U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop; Willie Adams, former Albany mayor, and Dorothy Hubbard, current mayor.
Each guest spoke of the center’s importance to the region’s aging population and of their own connection with it’s progress through the years. The central thread in every speech was the unwavering praise and credit for Hind and her unwillingness to accept anything but success in the center’s ultimate fruition.
“They’re already coming in,” said the 83-year old Hind at the dedication, as tours of the facility were conducted. “I really thought we’d have to do some marketing and promotions, but already about 100 people are coming to the center.”
Hind said it was difficult for her to pinpoint exactly when the idea for an Albany enrichment center was born. The closest she could come is a period around 20 years ago, she said, when she and other council members and volunteers were watching some of the counties near to Dougherty build “nice” buildings with programs for the aging, while Albany made do with a hodgepodge of available buildings with “leaky roofs” and faulty air conditioners.”
“We have them beat now,” Hind said.
Asked if she ever thought she’d see her dream completed, she was quick to answer.
“No,” Hind said. “I’m going strong. I’m blessed with good health and the enthusiasm to make it happen. That it would fail never crossed my mind. It was just a matter of time.”
Hind said the next thing she wants to accomplish is to develop the center into a facility that truly lives up to its name as an enrichment center, providing a variety of programs for the elderly including classes in basic computer use, classes for caregivers, flower arrangement, and the list goes on.
Izzie Sadler, developmental director for SOWEGA Council on Aging, said the $8 million structure, formed in part by the shell of the old Byne Baptist Church school and built on land donated by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, also houses the administrative offices of the Council and the 80-plus administrative staff.
Dedication of the center was followed by a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony and guided tours of the the facility, hosted by the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. A black tie-optional dinner with dancing was planned Thursday evening.