Senior Recreation Center Supervisor Laura Cegelski said she and her staff began making regular phone calls to the seniors in McKinney back in April after local stay-at-home orders went into effect.
“We had to come up with how to continue to reach those seniors and keep them active and engaged,” Cegelski said. “We have had a lot of different projects.”
During the center’s closure, the McKinney Senior Recreation Center team has put together activity kits for seniors; Zoom call instruction classes; and a bimonthly newsletter with home workouts, crafts and brain games.
In addition to these programs, the center’s staff was able to host drive-thru events and some minimally attended in-person classes for adults age 50 years and older at its temporary office space at the McKinney National Airport. Aquatic classes are also being offered through a partnership at the Apex Centre.
This type of programming is one of the reasons Cegelski recently won the Texas Recreation and Parks Society’s Recreation Professional of the Year award for the North Region, which encompasses 56 counties, including Collin, Dallas, Tarrant and Johnson counties.
Parks and Recreation Director Michael Kowski said the award is a recognition of Cegelski’s oversight of the senior recreation center and her work to keep seniors engaged in the community through the pandemic.
“The senior wellness check calls approached 8,000 calls, each with a separate script, with feedback tracking the conversations, putting seniors in connection with resources. Some seniors responded back by saying, ‘This is the first conversation I’ve had with somebody in months,’ because they’re alone,” Kowski said.
While the facility is closed for members' safety, the closure has also allowed renovations at the center to progress more rapidly, Kowski said. The center is set to reopen next year once renovations have been completed.
“We went from probably a multiphase project to one phase, which, in the end, we think, will save us some time and money when it’s all said and done,” he said.
When finished, the building will have been completely refreshed and will have a new, reorganized floor plan: What was once the fitness room will now be the billiards room, and what was the multipurpose space will now be the fitness space. The city has also added about 1,800 square feet of new space by repurposing patio areas to help accommodate the center’s growing membership.
“It will feel like a brand-new facility when you walk into it,” Kowski said.
In 2019, McKinney voters approved a $91 million bond package for parks and recreation facilities, $35 million of which was set aside for an entirely new senior recreation center. The city does plan to move forward with this project, but a location for the new center has not been selected yet, Kowski said. Renovations to the current senior center were planned to help the building to transition into being whatever it needed to be down the road—either as a general recreation center or something different.
“The renovations are designed to be flexible so we can change the personality of the building for the future,” he said.
Temporary Senior Recreation Office
McKinney National Airport
1476 Industrial Blvd., McKinney