SPRINGFIELD, NJ — Starting this Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the Springfield Recreation Department will begin to welcome back senior citizens to the Chisholm Community Center and Chisholm Park after a six-month absence due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
When they return, seniors will find a slate of physically distanced offerings, which will include weekly outdoor fitness class, bingo, cards, computer lab, fitness room, and pickleball. When speaking about the impending reopening, Recreation Director Adam Lieb said that it was key for senior citizens to return, but only after it was deemed safe by the department to do so.
The resumption of programs are free and available to Springfield residents ages 55+ and current members of the Springfield Senior Citizens Club. COVID-19 health and safety protocols, physical distancing, and capacity limits will be enforced.
“Our senior citizens have been either at home or certainly away from the community center for the past six months,” Lieb said. “During that time, we’ve had limited interaction with them. We’ve had a volunteer shopping service for them, we’ve had some fitness classes done virtually, but we’ve really been wanting to see them in person, and we had to wait until it was safe to do that.
“So we did a survey, we also made close to 100 phone calls to try to gauge the interest of our seniors, and enough of them did want to come back that we got to work to try to make sure that it could be done as distanced and as safe and healthy as possible.”
Lieb also explained that all programs chosen to run were selected based on how much interest was shown by the seniors polled. he also hoped that at some point soon, senior bus service will be resumed, which will allow for the department to run trips to the grocery store, the doctor’s office and for other errands.
He also said that the return to a degree of normalcy with the reintroduction of senior activities was something that he was looking forward to.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on youth sports, which was very popular this summer and this fall,” Lieb said. “But the kids have a little bit of an easier time getting out there, whereas the seniors, their normal life was taken and was turned upside down.
“We interact with them on a daily basis, and they interact with us and each other. They have not been able to do that. So for them to come back, even if it’s one day a week or two days a week for an hour at a time does give them hope and does give them normalcy. It gives them the interaction which will hopefully keep [them] very active and healthy as this progresses.”
Lieb also added that he and his staff were more than ready to begin working, and were thankful that the reopening date was so close.
“I’m just thankful that the township has been able to support my staff’s work to bring the senior citizens back,” Lieb said. “We have a great staff, and they want to work, they want to provide services for the seniors, and they just want to see them again, so we’re really excited about that.”
Participants in the returning senior programs must pre-register online for fitness and sports programs at https://register.communitypass.net/springfield. The Springfield Recreation Department hopes to announce the resumption of the bus service soon.
For more information, contact Ricci Rajoppi, Recreation Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or (973) 912-2227.