Senior center opens in downtown Smyrna

Ben Mace * Delaware
ben.mace@doverpost.com
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

A nurse with years of experience working with older patients is leading the new Smyrna Senior Center which opened Jan. 30.

Director Tejumade “TJ” Famakinwa said the center will serve lunch, host fitness and wellness programs, bingo, arts and crafts, yoga, dancing, movies and more.

“We wanted to provide a place for friendship and fellowship,” Famakinwa said. “I grew up here and we raised our family here. This is our community, and we want to help seniors and support them.”

She said during her career in health care, she saw the need for a place for older adults to go. While some neighborhoods for older adults have a clubhouse for those residents, there was no community senior center in the Smyrna town limits.

The 4,300 square-foot facility is in the Smyrna Health and Wellness Center on South Main Street, in the original site of Atlantic Apothecary which moved to its own building on Route 13 and South Street.

The nonprofit is open to residents 55 and over. Membership is $25 per year.

Famakinwa said to help provide funding, the center can be rented for meetings, parties and receptions.

Special projects manager Diana Hegeman is assisting Famakinwa.

“I’ve worked with TJ before and I’m definitely on board with what she wants to do here,” Hegeman said.

Senior centers were important to her parents, she said.

“It helped us when were in need,” Hegeman said. “My mother did home health care and my father would go to the senior center, and he really enjoyed it – talking to everyone and doing the activities.”

Hegeman said she jumped at the opportunity to give back.

“I’m a people person, so I love being involved with this,” she said.

Smyrna Mayor Robert Johnson attended the grand opening.

“I think this is a wonderful idea so our senior citizens have a place to go here in Smyrna,” Johnson said. “A lot of seniors don’t have transportation, but they may be able to walk here or it’s convenient for someone to drop them off.”

He said the center should also be an attractive venue for other events.

“I can see it being used for meetings, parties and receptions. I think that’s a great idea,” he said. “In the evening, when most of the offices are closed, there will be plenty of parking in this lot if there’s an event here.”

Richard Bailey, who attended the grand opening with his wife, Kay Wood Bailey, said he’s looking forward to joining the center.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “This is going to be a place where senior citizens can go to get help, talk, get lunch and have fun. I see they said they want to have dancing. There’s quite a few possibilities.”

Volunteers and donations welcome

The center is a nonprofit organization and donations are welcome – funds and equipment.

Famakinwa said the center needs a computer and welcomes anyone who has one to donate to call to see if it will be a good fit for the center’s needs.

Volunteers interested in helping with activities are also invited.

Café and student learning center planned

Famakinwa said she’s awaiting final approval from the town to open a café a few doors away from the senior center near the Main Street entrance to the Health and Wellness Center.

The café will have two purposes. It will be a for-profit business selling food and beverages to all the doctors, nurses, staff members and visitors at the Health Wellness Center, but it will also provide the lunches that will be served at the senior center.

“The money we make at the restaurant would help to offset the cost of providing lunches for our seniors,” Famakinwa said. “We’re trying to put this together for the community.”

Smyrna Senior Center

ADDRESS 100 S. Main St., suite 104, Smyrna

HOURS Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PHONE 302-223-4050

WEBSITE smyrnaseniorcenter.com.