The audience danced with sweet life as a cover band played Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” Friday at the opening of the new Senior Life Center in Gainesville.
They swung their hips, caught up with old friends over a game of pool, snacked on appetizers and cut the proverbial red ribbon at the April 20 event.
“This was just a dream nine years ago,” said Phillippa Lewis Moss, director of the Gainesville-Hall Community Service Center. “When the recession hit, we really thought it had been put on the shelves.”
The $1.5 million project was prioritized, however, when Hall County voters approved a a special purpose local option sales tax in 2015.
The center was rebuilt from the ground up and includes a commercial kitchen, exercise room, meeting rooms and a library.
There are also lockers and showers, a prayer room and meditation room, and sponsors are wanted for a spa room, salon and barber.
The 13,000-square-foot space was furnished through donations and sponsorships.
“It’s a place for people who feel left out,” former Gainesville Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras said. “But (this place) is beautiful.”
The event drew hundreds of residents, local government officials and business leaders from across Hall County.
“It’s a great asset to our community,” said Steve Watson, known for his work as Hall County tax assessor, but who also serves on the board of the Community Council on Aging and has volunteered for Meals on Wheels for years. “This gives seniors a great place to come.”
”This has really been a priority,” Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said. “I can’t get over the improvements.”
Councilman George Wangemann said he thinks Hall County’s large senior population means the center will be worth the expense as demand for its services rises in the coming years.
Richard Higgins, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners, said the new center is an “extremely nice place ... for seniors.”
“I can say that because I am one,” he said with a laugh.