Poughkeepsie…The Dutchess County Division of Aging Services’s national award winning Senior Exercise Program recently marked its 10 year anniversary. The program was initiated by County Executive William R. Steinhaus at the end of 1999 as a way for senior citizens to counteract the effects of osteoporosis and lead to improvement in mobility, muscle strength, stamina, balance and independence. Today, the program has 55 classes, all led by volunteers, located throughout the county and has served over 1500 participants.
“Our national award winning Senior Exercise Program helps keep seniors healthy and engaged by providing important physical and social activity,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “We are extremely grateful to our many dedicated volunteers who week after week donate their time and skills selflessly to conduct the classes. Without them, this program would not exist.”
Nineteen of the original volunteer class leaders (as well as several hundred class members) are still with the program. Last month, the following volunteers were honored for 10 years of service to the Dutchess County Senior Exercise Program:
- Alice Merritt, Beacon
- Eulie Anderson, Wappingers Falls
- Ray Joyce, Rhinebeck
- Barbara Gilmor, Hopewell Junction
- Virginia Mennett, Hopewell Junction
- Stella Rossi, Fishkill
- Marion Bennett, Millbrook
- Caroline McEnroe, Amenia
- Nada Davis, Pawling
- Jeanne Kelly, Pawling
- Annette Berger, Pleasant Valley
- Esther Conklin, Millbrook
- Mary Souser, Poughkeepsie
- Jean Gallo, Poughkeepsie
- Marina Moore, Poughkeepsie
- Laura Moriarty, Poughkeepsie
- Eileen Sassmann, Wappingers Falls
- Marion Stephens, Wappingers Falls
- Linda Barnes, Stanfordville.
Participants in the Senior Exercise Program start with one pound weights and gradually increase the weight when they feel they are able. Classes meet twice a week for one hour and are free of charge. They are conducted in a circle of about 15 to 20 people, using a chair for support and free weights. These weights can be used for both legs and arms. Participants not only build personal strength and make new social contacts, but also learn nutritional and safety information that will help in their daily lives.
In 2005, Dutchess County’s Senior Exercise Program was honored with the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2005 Acts of Caring Award, which recognizes the top county volunteer programs in the country. The program has also received the Public Health Partnership Award from the Dutchess County Board of Health.
The Senior Exercise Program is just one of the many programs that depend on volunteers. Nearly 400 volunteers provide more than 40,000 hours a year in service to Division of Aging Services programs. Using the current estimated dollar value of volunteer hourly service as calculated by the Independent Sector in Washington, D.C., OFA volunteers donated more than $1.1 million in 2009.
For more information about the Senior Exercise Program, visit www.dutchessny.gov, contact the Division of Aging Services at (845) 486-2555, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application and doctor’s consent form or for information about the class locations.