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Flower Mound seniors get their own space

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Flower Mound is aging. According to the 2010 census, the number of residents 65 and older has nearly tripled — from 1,347 a decade ago, or 2.7 percent of the town’s population, to 3,576, or 5.5 percent.

Recognizing the trend, officials have been working to upgrade the town’s programs for seniors. Their work will take a major step forward on August 5th, when the Shirley Voirin Social Senior Center opens next to Town Hall.

The 4,850-square-foot building will house the town’s Seniors in Motion program, whose 1,100 members have been meeting in a 2,100-square-foot room in the Community Activity Center on Gerault Road since it opened in 2008.

“I’m really humbled,” said the building’s namesake, Shirley Voirin, a 25-year resident of Flower Mound. “I’m just so glad it’s finally come to fruition, because we desperately need it.”

The new location, which previously was used as the Town Hall, jail and FMTV studio, was hit by a tornado a couple of years ago. Town Manager Harlan Jefferson’s staff suggested using the insurance money to turn the building into a long-awaited standalone senior center.

Inside, the redesigned building is light and airy, with skylights illuminating a dance floor, computer stations, meeting space and a restaurant-quality kitchen.

“We’ve come a long way in a short period of time,” said Doug Brown, a SIM member and president of the group’s advisory board. “The town did a heck of a job for us.”

The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting at 9 a.m. on Aug. 5, followed by an open house until 4 p.m. The SIM program will kick off in its new space on Monday, Aug. 8.

Members participate in card games, crafts, dances, exercise classes, day trips and more. Membership is limited to those over 50 and costs $10 a year for town residents and $20 for non-residents.

The nonprofit SIM Auxiliary Inc., which formed two years ago to raise funds to help furnish a senior center, has donated more than $12,000 for furniture, a sound system, projector, kitchen equipment and more. The group held a casino night, sock hop and membership drive, and solicited corporate donations, most notably from the CoServ Charitable Foundation, Victor Myers Real Estate and CapitalOne.

“This happened a lot more quickly than we thought,” said Mary Kay Walker, president of SIM Auxiliary. “When the decision was made to move into the new building, we stepped up our fund-raising and were pleased to be able to fulfill the requests of the SIM group for upgraded furnishings.”

Shirley Voirin started organizing local seniors nearly 20 years ago. Discussions about getting the town involved took place in former Mayor Jody Smith’s kitchen. Seniors in Motion was formed and originally met at a church before the CAC was built.

Seniors have been politely vocal in calling for larger accommodations. Glenn Faulkner said that if only the town would build a senior center, he would pay for the sign. True to his word, he donated $1,000 toward the lettering on the side of the building.

For decades Flower Mound was largely a bedroom community for commuters to the airport, downtown and so on. But the area’s senior population will continue to grow.
For one reason, we’re all getting a year older every year, and transplants tend to stay here for retirement. Another factor is the town’s large supply of grandchildren; many seniors move here to be close to family.

Town officials have realized that what’s good for Flower Mound’s elderly is good for everyone: When seniors move to town, they buy homes and support property values; when grandparents are around, kids get better Christmas presents and guiding hands of wisdom.

And when these new seniors move to town, they need a place to meet other seniors. Hence, the Shirley Voirin Social Senior Center.

Ms. Voirin will be on hand for the ribbon-cutting. Many others who wished for this day have not lived to see it.

She praised town officials, past and current, for their work. “We didn’t do it all by ourselves,” Ms. Voirin said. “We can’t complain about anything.”

Looking forward, the town has plans for a custom, state-of-the-art senior center, perhaps at the CAC site or at the planned RiverWalk development near the new hospital. But funding and a timetable are undetermined.

The seniors are not sitting idly. SIM Auxiliary, which recently was honored with an award from the Texas Association of Aging Programs, plans to keep raising money.

“We know there will be more needs going forward in the current building — for example, the new grill we got for SIM earlier this summer,” Mrs. Walker said. “But we also plan to raise as much money as we can for the bigger building, so when the time comes, we can say we’ve done our part.”

Paul Foutch is vice president of SIM Auxiliary.

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