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Springfield Park Board’s Northview Center for seniors open again after 15-month pandemic related shutdown

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 6:00 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield-Greene County Park Board has reopened the Northview Center, home to their programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Now through June 30, Northview is open 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday. Starting July 1, partner group SeniorAge resumes in-house lunch and dining room service and Northview will be open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Because many participants in Northview programs are at a higher risk for COVID complications, the facility remained closed for 15 months, but programs continued outdoors, including drive-through lunch pick-up, drive-in bingo, outdoor craft projects and other physically distanced activities. Northview seniors have also kept in touch through their Facebook group.

Located in Dolling Park in north Springfield, the Northview Center’s closing last year during the COVID-19 outbreak left hundreds of seniors with no gathering place for socialization, entertainment or exercising.

“This has been the livelihood of everybody’s life every single day so to take that away has been huge for them,” said Tasia Kinney, Northview’s Recreation Specialist.

“It’s been bad,” said Jackie Jenkins as she received a hug from one of her friends while sitting at a table listening to live music.

Hugs were few-and-far-between during the pandemic and Jenkins, who’s 99 years-old, admitted that the year-plus isolation was tough.

“Very lonely,” she said.

But on this day she was back at the center enjoying every moment with a group of six friends.

“I hadn’t seen a lot of them in over a year,” she pointed out.

Unfortunately, though, there are some of the former patrons that she’ll never see again because they’ve passed away during the center’s closure.

“We counted earlier today,” Jenkins said. “There’s at least 12 people that used to come here that’s gone. This world has changed an awful lot.”

“There’s sadness but I think life is to be lived,” said Berniece Taylor, another Northview patron who lost friends during the virus’ surge.

Taylor was among the patrons taking part in the games offered at the center, breaking into a smile at the simple pleasure of winning some paper towels playing Bingo.

She also pointed to the many trips that Northview offered as her favorite thing to do.

“Going traveling down to Branson is one of the things I missed a lot,” she said.

“We went on trips constantly at least once a week anywhere from Branson to Downstream (Casino)to just locally here in Springfield,” Kinney added.

But most of all, everyone just seemed to be treasuring the chance to be back together and spending time with those they love.

“It’s really nice to be able to see these people again,” Taylor said. “They’re like family. We need to get out as seniors and find friends. Because of you’re not a friend, you’re not going to find one.”

Senior programs now resuming include line dance, Tai Chi, foot clinic, Art in the Park and access to the billiards and fitness rooms. Accessible recreation programs include ceramics class as well as continued crafts in parks pavilions and weekly disc golf at Oak Grove Park. Additional programs will be added.

Transportation is available through OATS and other bus services. OATS requests appointments 24 hours ahead of time, call 1-800-770-6287 ext. 6011 to schedule.

Northview Center offers a variety of programs for seniors age 55+ and Accessible Recreation for individuals with disabilities. There is no membership fee, although some programs have registration fees.

For more information, visit ParkBoard.org/Northview, ParkBoard.org/Accessible Rec or call 417-837-5808.

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