Opportunities, Inc. celebrating 45 years

Borger’s local senior citizens center is celebrating 45 years of operation.Opportunities, Inc., located at 930 Illinois, will celebrate this special milestone this Thursday with a reception from 1-4 p.m. Cake and other refreshments will be served, and the community is invited to come and celebrate.The center is a non-profit organization of Borger individuals who operate a combination community and senior citizen center.“The purpose of this facility is to provide pleasant surroundings for fellowship, entertainment, creative instruction, and relaxation to our senior citizens,” Lida Whitehead, center director, said.It is the mission of the center to deliver a variety of services to senior citizens living in the area, with special emphasis placed on those who are low income, minority status, or confined to their homes.Opportunities, Inc. was conceived as a separate entity in 1967. Between the years of 1962 and 1967, interest, participation and services were extended to senior citizens of this area by a loose coalition of several clubs and other organizations.These included the Altrusa Club, Gray Ladies, Borger Music Group, the Bluebonnet Home Demonstration Group, the Twentieth Century Group, Jaycee-ettes, Paragon Club, Phillips Garden Club, Women’s Forum, Home Demonstration County Council, Christian Outreach Committee, and the Women’s Division of the Borger Chamber of Commerce, as well as city and county officials.“In order to coordinate the energies and programs of these civic-minded organizations and individuals it was deemed proper to create a more concerted effort in this particular field,” Whitehead said. “Opportunities Inc. was formed by a group of citizens for this purpose.”An application was made to the Borger Independent School District to allow Opportunities, Inc. to utilize the old Huber School Building. The building had become available when a population shift in the City of Borger resulted in a high operation cost of the facility.“Permission was granted by the Board of Education and an ambitious program of remodeling and repair to the building was started,” Whitehead said. “Over $25,000 in cash monies, plus a considerable amount of donated material and labor, resulted in a very functional building which the senior citizens of Borger enjoy today.”The improvements included the lowering of the high ceilings, relocation of some of the walls, improvement to the heating and lighting system, and the installation of air conditioning. All of the meeting rooms were carpeted and furnished suitable for meetings and activities.At the present time, there are approximately 125 senior members who participate in regular activities at the center, as well as approximately 48 Meals on Wheels members in the Borger and Stinnett area.The center began serving five meals a week, which it still does to this day. Meals are served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Meals on Wheels program began in 1979.A game room is open to senior citizens daily, which includes pool tables, checkers, darts, and chess. There is also an exercise bike available, as well as a couch for relaxation and fellowship.Volunteer instructors teach art classes, AARP driving classes, and give Medicare and financial updates, along with health and nutritional information.Several home health agencies volunteer services monthly at the center, taking blood pressures, blood sugars, and oxygen levels, and at times cholesterol levels. These groups include Golden Plains Home Health, Accolade Home Health, and Interim.The center has three meeting rooms available, and the center has become a meeting place for many local organizations. There are numerous groups and organizations that hold regular meetings at the center. “These groups are encouraged to use the center and to spend a little time each meeting day in visiting with the Senior Citizens who are always available in the living room, game room, or coffee room,” Whitehead said.The idea behind the program is to eliminate the problem of isolation for senior citizens, and to afford the opportunity of people to enjoy the satisfaction gained from helping other people.The center offers transportation for eligible senior citizens, which includes to and from the center for the meal, to and from the center for social interaction, local doctor’s visits, trips to the post office and bank, and trips to the grocery store, Wal-Mart, and other places when needed.Presently, Opportunities, Inc. is a successful operation in the City of Borger and has been used as a model for other similar projects throughout the State of Texas. “As with all programs of this manner, it requires continued dedication of the town’s people to support such an undertaking,” Whitehead said. “It took a lot of faith by a number of people to embark upon this program.”Ruby Coffee and Nan Warren were considered two of the most instrumental people in the project, and the board of the center believes the center will not only continue to survive, but thrive.Whitehead has been with the center for 14 years. She cooked for the center for several years, was then named kitchen manager, and eventually became the center’s director in 2007. She said the hardest part of her job is seeing people she has served through the center pass away.“You get attached to them. They’re like family,” she said. “You don’t want to lose them, that’s for sure.”She said she is appreciative of the support the center has received and continues to receive from the local community.“I’m thankful to the citizens of Borger for their donations and involvement in keeping the place going,” Whitehead said.The board of Opportunities, Inc. is made up of Dale Gallaspy, president; Glen Buckles, Rodney DeMoss, Bill Carder, Marlene McKinney, Debbie Jennings, Tibby Rogers, Rhonda Sudbrink, and Chester Carlson. Whitehead said she is grateful for the board’s efforts in keeping the center functioning as it is, as well as those who give of their time as staff members and volunteers.“We’ve got a wonderful group of volunteers, staff, and board members,” she said. “They do everything they can to keep the place going.”For more information on the center and its 45th anniversary celebration, call 274-4491.