Large-print playing cards flew from Dan Palmer's fingertips as he dealt the first hand of pinochle.
The other three players at the table were eager to get started on their weekly game at the new Sugar Grove Older Adult Center.
Contact information ( * required )
This group would be happy if the center offered nothing more than a place to play their favorite game.
But the center, run by the Sugar Grove Park District and Sugar Grove Township, aims for more.
There's a hot lunch, of which Palmer, of North Aurora, made quick work Thursday.
"You grew up when I grew up, you didn't get fussy about what was on your plate" he said of the pea salad, chicken gumbo and chocolate pudding.
The Sugar Grove Library supplies books that can be borrowed, even without a library card. There's a stack of board games, magazines, literature about issues relevant to seniors, and computers with Internet connections.
And the hope that more people will take advantage of the social opportunity.
The center opened at the end of September. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m., as part of the Salvation Army's Golden Diners program.
Chris Walker, the center's director, said the center came about because different people at the library, the township and park district "saw that there were plenty of seniors in Sugar Grove that could use something like this."
The center is in the former library building at 54 Snow St. You don't have to be a Sugar Grove resident to use it. The pinochle players last week came from Elburn, North Aurora, Aurora and Oswego. They travel to different senior centers throughout the area to play.
"I enjoy getting out," said Sharlene Kruchte of Oswego.
They are what Walker considers the more active seniors, able to get around and not isolated.
"My biggest goal is to get the people who aren't getting out much at all," he said, such as a couple in their 80s and 90s who live about a block away from the center. He's investigating whether the park district van could provide rides to the center.
"Social-wise, they would really benefit," he said. "... Social interaction is beneficial to well-being."
On Veterans Day, the women chatted about the military service of their husbands and a ceremony one had attended.
Walker plans to keep the activities free, so that lack of money doesn't keep anyone away. The Golden Diners program asks for a donation of $3.50 per meal. Walker said a flower pot craft and a movie afternoon are on the November schedule. Walker is looking for bridge players, there's a group that plays Mexican train dominoes, and several sessions on setting up e-mail accounts are planned.
For a menu and a list of activities, call (630) 466-7436 or visit sgparks.org.