Nancy and Joe Bonner have been regulars at the Pennridge Community Center for more than a decade. Pretty much every other day, they made the trip from Chalfont to Silverdale for Nancy to shimmy in Zumba class and for Joe to check out new books in the library. They looked forward to the delicious lunches and the chance to socialize with friends.
So when extensive damage from a burst pipe in early February forced the center to close for nearly three months, what did the couple do?
“We missed it,” said Nancy Bonner with a laugh.
The Bonners were among hundreds of people who stopped by the center at Routes 113 and 152 on Sunday afternoon to celebrate its official reopening with tours, light refreshments and entertainment. With new carpeting and furniture and a fresh paint scheme, about the only evidence of the disaster is the folding tables center staffers are using until the insurance settlement is finalized.
“We made do and we still are,” said Ted Heimbach, president of the executive board that oversees center operations.
As a steady stream of visitors came through the front door on Sunday, manager Debbie Scullon said it was important that the center’s 450 members did not lose out on essential services during the closure. Meals on Wheels continued as did tax preparation services, she said. Even special events scheduled for the Legacy Room, which was not damaged, went on as planned.
“It just worked,” she said. “Everyone worked together.”
Other popular activities such as art, pool, chess and access to the computers had to be curtailed, she said. Some members found alternatives in other community centers or churches, she said.
Scullon said the open house was a good way to not only let members see the improvements but to let the community at large know “what a tremendous asset they have in their own backyard.”
“It’s such a welcoming place,” she said. “Everyone is friendly. When you come in for the first time, you will have someone to talk to.”
While the center caters to seniors, she said, everyone is allowed to join. In 2012, the center dropped “senior” from its name and replaced it with “community,” in an effort to attract a wider demographic. Heimbach said they have seen an increase in “younger” senior members interested in taking advantage of some of the evening activities offered at the center.
None of that mattered to the Bonners, who signed up to spend time at a local health club but ended up never going.
“This is our place,” said Nancy Bonner.