MARION -- Jill Graskewicz set out to change the way the world views one of its most precious commodities, its senior population, and if the schedule of activities at Marion's Senior Citizens Center, or "Club 60" is any indicator, she has found success.
The Director of the Marion Senior Citizens Center took advantage of the COVID-19 mitigations to start making that dream a reality.
"I want to be different. I want to be the best. I want to change what everybody thinks a senior center is," said Graskwicz.
Graskewicz said she takes inspiration from Phil Gillespie, who was a volunteer with the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging more than a decade ago when she was working with the Alzheimer's Association.
"He smacked his hand on a table and said, 'If you don't change aging, you have to live with it,'" she said.
Graskewicz decided she won't accept the current state of senior centers.
"What aging is ... it's not pretty right now," she said, adding that she visits centers all over the United States.
So she decided to shake things up.
Reopening post-pandemic, Club 60 is challenging its members to branch out into different activities.
"We kept the puzzle," said Graskewicz, "because they asked for it."
However, that is a group effort that usually only keeps members seated at the table for about 10 minutes at a time. There are too many other things to do, like line dancing.
"That's become one of our most popular activities," said Graskewicz.
But, that class isn't simply about dancing. Its members are now "tech-savvy," at least with their music.
"They were still buying songs one at a time," said Graskewicz.
After a quick tutorial, the dancers are now using their phones to access apps and create and share their playlists.
They also know how to sync their phones to the center's speakers.
The new quilting group not only works on individual projects, they have expanded and are accepting orders from the public. They've posted their new business venture on the center's Facebook page.
Graskewicz is full of many other ideas that she hopes to continue implementing to make Club 60 a model for other centers.
Some of these changes are simple, like the coffee bar with LED lighting in rainbow colors that holds a variety of teas and flavorings that members that have on their own with snacks.
She wants the center to be a fun, welcoming environment.
So far, her ideas seem to be working.
With a pool table that stays busy and members that spend time comparing and downloading iPad apps, Graskewicz is smiling.
"It's more like a teen town for seniors," she said.