By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
FULTON, Ill. —
Robert Fulton Commons Center is a community center for people of all ages and abilities and city officials are making this a priority.
The community center is often referred to as the River Bend Senior Center, but many do not know that the senior center is just one part of the commons.
“We want to explore other areas,” City Administrator Randy Balk said. “It’s up to us on how to grow the community programs.”
Senior Center advisory board members and Balk have been looking into making the center more accessible and open to the entire community. While the senior center has regular meals provided by local agencies, the group decided it was crucial to offer community meals. The new meal plan started Friday and will continue every other Friday.
These new meals with a suggested donation are a start to an effort to create more of an identity for the center. Meals are already offered on Wednesdays, but are provided by local agency donations. This will be the first program completely run by the center with its own cook, Elsie Foster. While the senior center has a lease with Whiteside County Senior Center, this program is completely independent.
“With this program we are able to set up our own rules and guidelines and better explore the needs of our community,” Balk said.
This is just the beginning of implementing more community-oriented programs at the center. After a survey showed that those attending the Wednesday meals would like to see a Friday meal, the new plan was set into action. With a newly improved kitchen, the group decided it was time to better utilize the facility. If the new program is successful, meals will also be offered on Mondays.
“The whole building is a community center and the senior center is a big part of it, but people of all ages are welcome here,” senior center director Karen Abbott said. “We’ve had baby birthday celebrations, the Boy Scouts soup dinner and many other events here.”
“Our meals have always been open to everyone and we like to make that known, especially now that we have our own cook,” assistant Charlotte Combs said. “It’s a great social hour.”
The hope is to have the doors open five days eventually, according to Balk. The next meal on Nov. 16 will include baked ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, fruited jello and cookies. Meals are served from 11:15 a.m to 12:15 p.m. For more information visit cityoffulton.us or riverbendseniorcenter.org.