SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind gives a progress report on the organization’s new Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany to the Kiwanis Club or Dougherty County Monday. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — The Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County got an update and video tour of the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s new Senior Life Enrichment Center at the group’s regular meeting Monday.
Kay Hind, SOWEGA Council on Aging executive director and Kiwanis member, said the center is now open for use and is nearly complete, save for a few things still being finished on the interior.
“It’s been an experience, I’ll tell you,” said Hind. “We’re still in the process of moving in. We still have a few workmen in the building with us. They were supposed to be finished the 16th of November, but they’re still with us. In fact, I’ve kind of gotten used the them.”
Hind began her presentation by thanking Kiwanis members for their support of the council and the opportunity to give them an update on the center.
The 45,000-square-foot center, located at 335 W. Society Ave. in Albany, features 80 offices, multiple reception areas, various educational, craft and entertainment rooms, a computer lab featuring 10 computers, a fitness room, a kitchen and a multi-purpose ballroom that is large enough to seat 300-500 guests, depending on the set up.
“The building houses all of our offices and all of the activities that are available for older people,” Hind said. “I think it’s very unique.”
The new location allows the council to bring the resources and programs of four different Albany locations into one facility, making for greater efficiency for employees, volunteers and seniors.
“We moved four buildings into one here, so if you need or want something, you only have to come to one place,” Hind said. “That’s the key to it, it really is very attractive.”
Hind said the project, which had been a dream of hers for many years, first started becoming a reality in 2007 when Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital purchased the land where Byne Memorial Baptist Church was previously located and essentially donated it to the council.
“It’s been my dream for many years,” said Hind. “The first of January I had been in this job 46 years so I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. In 2007 it became a reality when Phoebe Putney purchased the former Byne Memorial Baptist Church and sold it to us for a dollar. I actually wrote a check for a dollar and gave it to them.”
Ground was broken on the project in 2012 and the nearly $8 million dollar project was funded by a combination of special purpose local option sales tax revenue, grants, capital fund-raising campaigns, charitable donations, fundraisers and the sale of other properties owned by the council.
Now that the building is complete, the council can focus its energies into its programs for seniors, including Meals on Wheels and adult day care among others.
In fact, Meals on Wheels, one of the more widely known programs the council administers, has not yet moved into the new facility, but Hind said she hopes that will happen soon, in order to start utilizing the new, state-of-the-art kitchen and meal pick-up space.
The SOWEGA Council on Aging, which grew out of the Albany-Dougherty Council on Aging in 1979 currently plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for all people 60 years of age or older in a 6,000 mile area of southwest Georgia.