SAILing into the future

Published 5:18 pm Friday, March 26, 2004

By By Arthur McLean Editor
Atmore's seniors will soon have a new place to call their own.
Monday, the Atmore City Council approved the receipt of a $250,000 grant to build a new SAIL Center. SAIL stands for Senior Action for Independent Living.
Currently, the SAIL center operates out of the city's old National Guard armory. Built in 1949, the armory building is showing its age, with curling vinyl flooring, water damaged walls in places and window unit air conditioners to help cool parts of the building in the summer.
Charlotte Purvis, the center's director, said the seniors are proud of the building, but would love to have a new center.
The center serves meals to more than 80 seniors who come nearly every day. It also serves meals to a number of shut-ins around town.
It is the largest, most active center in the region under the South Alabama Center for Aging, an area that encompasses both Mobile and Baldwin Counties.
The SAIL Center has had its current home for more than 30 years, serving those who are 60 years old and older.
"This new building is long overdue," Purvis said. "We feel like we could serve even more seniors in a more modern building. We think there are a number of seniors who won't come because of the condition of our current building."
More than just meals, the center offers the seniors an opportunity to stay active, with billiards, dominoes, bingo and crafts, said Lorraine Byrd, who has volunteered at the center for many years.
The center provides special a special Thanksgiving meal service, offers group trips and brings in health workers to talk to the seniors and give free tests and medical screenings.
"It's one of the best uses for public money I've been a part of in a while," said Council member John Watkins said.
"We're proud we were able to get this grant, and now we're waiting on the Historical Society to review the lot, as required by any government funding," said Mayor Howard Shell.
The grant is a federal pass-through grant through the state, and is being handled by the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission.
In addition to the new center, Purvis said her goals are to get vans for the seniors. Currently, the center has to pay to use county vans when the seniors take trips together. "We have several fund-raisers planned, including a talent show," Purvis said. "You wouldn't believe how talented some of these people are here."
"Everyone here is proud of this center, but we're excited about having a new one soon."

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