Senior center bounces back

CNJ staff photo: Tony Gutierrez Sue Woodcock and Joe Lekovich dance at the Baxter-Curren Senior Center’s weekly Friday dance less than a month after the building was reopened.

By Tony Gutierrez: CNJ staff writer

Between 70 and 80 senior citizens danced to Alan Jackson and Hank Williams Friday night at the Baxter-Curren Senior Center. The building was just like it was more than three months earlier, before a tornado hit the center during another Friday dance March 23.

Nobody was seriously injured, but the building was in shambles. Lights dangled from portions of the ceiling, the sound system was lost, glass was stuck in the carpet, and an 8- to 12-foot hole in the roof hovered over the dance floor, which was covered in a foot of water. Remodeling cost approximately $40,000.

“We were playing so much music, we weren’t aware of what was going on until somebody got a cell phone call,” said the center’s incoming president Gene Woodcock. “After the tornado, everyone was wanting to know how long it would be before we could come back.”

The tornado hit a few weeks before the center planned to celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 17. The party is rescheduled for July 20, when members will celebrate both 50 years and a grand re-opening.

“I thought, ‘God would not want this many senior citizens at one time,’” said Kathy Allenberg. “I don’t think anybody believed it would hit us. It’s good to be back here.”

Until June 15, the center’s activities such as art classes, bingo and quilting were held at the Clovis-Carver Public Library or Clovis Community College. Dances were held in Muleshoe.

Program coordinator Brenda Hankins said some repairs still need to be made.

“Although it was inconvenient, most of the seniors still attended the activities to be with their friends,” Hankins said. “Our activity level is not as high. Every day we have people come in and ask if it’s open. Everybody is so glad to come home.”

Hankins said the day after the tornado, seniors were there early in the morning to help clean up, although they weren’t allowed on the premises.

Their first night back was a dance night, Hankins said, and some of the seniors got nervous because it rained heavily.

“Now they’re able to get back, they’re here picking up and cleaning,” Hankins said.

Hankins said the public is invited to the anniversary celebration and the seniors will be cooking. Funding for the center is provided by city and state grants and donations.

“None of us like the idea we’re going to get old and be one of these seniors,” Hankins said. “When they come here, they’re the active seniors. I’d really like the community to come and see what a senior can be.”

Baxter-Curren Senior Center
908 Hickory St.
5 p.m. Monday
Installation of 2007 officers and board members.
Potluck dinner afterward.
5 p.m. July 20
50th anniversary and grand re-opening celebration.
Ham dinner provided, bring side dish
5 p.m. July 25
$2 ice cream social and cakewalk. Accepting
donations of baked items for cakewalk.