“Come Have a Good Time” at the Free Membership Plum Community Center
With his Fender Stratocaster strapped to his shoulder and plugged into his amplifier, Dennis Cunningham carries on a melodious tradition.
“Plum Community Center has had volunteers who have been playing music with guitars and singing for 20 years,” he said. “It started with older guys. They are tired.”
Apparently, the founders of the center’s musical activity group finally retired when they were well over 90 years old.
These days, Cunningham is joined by Sandy Kaminski and Larry Lake, fellow members of his Country Expressions band, to lead the group at 12:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.
“It’s open for people to come play music with us,” Cunningham said, and the goal is to have a good time doing it.
That goes for everything the center has to offer, according to executive director Karen Hochberg, perhaps especially in May, which is nationally recognized as Older Americans Month.
“The theme is Age My Way, and that’s our focus here,” she said. “It is a center for healthy and active living. It is not a place where people sit still. They participate in activities and learning opportunities.
And they have lunch on weekdays, thanks to Allegheny County giving the go-ahead earlier this month for the community center to resume midday meal service, which is another step on the road back from covid. The building at 499 Center New Texas Road had been closed for nearly a year and a half before it could reopen in July.
Improvements have taken place in the meantime.
“During covid we remodeled the entrance. Our Silver Sneakers class has new flooring,” Hochberg said. “We also made renovations to the building which make it much more open, clean and fun.”
Outside, building owner Plum Borough has provided money for a patio extension that adds to the overall appeal of the place beyond its day-to-day functions on behalf of the elderly.
“It’s a great place to rent to party,” Hochberg said. “We rent on Saturdays and Sundays, which helps us with our fundraising.”
She recognized the county as the center’s main source of funding, and the borough provides the space free of charge while providing a stipend for various needs.
In addition to activities, the center offers guidance from knowledgeable staff and volunteers.
“If you are a senior looking for services to stay in your home or other things you need, we can refer you to the appropriate services. If you’re looking to help a family member tap into county social services, we provide that,” Hochberg said. “If they need to schedule time after work to come talk to us, we will. We can make arrangements.
The center is also collaborating with other local organizations, she said, such as joining the Plum Borough Community Library for a summer solstice celebration on June 21.
“It will be an intergenerational event,” she said. “The library will host story time with the children. We’re going to have a barbecue dinner. There will be games, entertainment, raffles and it will end with an experiential musical event for families.
As is the case with the library, Plum Community Center has no membership fees, and staff members are happy to help those interested fill out paperwork and show off everything the building has. to offer.
“One day a week, come and have a good time. Come have lunch or come hook up and chat with someone,” Hochberg said. “People need to realize that we need to make friends over the many seasons of our lives. And this is a place where you can do that.
For more information call 412-795-2330 or visit www.plumcommunitycenter.com for the list of services offered and the schedule of activities.
Harry Funk is a news editor for Tribune-Review. You can contact Harry at [email protected]