COLUMBIA - One local senior center became vacant Friday and members were unhappy to see the lights turned out. The Oakland Senior Center on Old Hwy 63 officially served its last meal to the seniors that called it home, due to a rent increase.
In order to continue operations, the center will be sharing space dining and kitchen space with the Columbia Senior Activity Center on the Business Loop, allowing for the continuation of the home delivery meal program and the daily in-house lunch sessions.
The president of the Columbia Senior Activity Center, Jan Palmer, said it just makes sense to come together.
"The biggest challenge that anyone will face is this is something new," she said. "As with anything new, you have to get used to it."
She said the center will serve the same population and the transition is going well.
Some Oakland members say they feel the sting of having to leave the center they called home. Dale Andrews said he was particularly upset to see the doors close.
"I'm an old farm kid," Andrews said. "It's like they're herding people to another pasture, rather than asking, ‘what do ya'll wanna do'?"
After finishing their last meal at the Oakland facility, members began signing cards to thank the cafeteria and managerial staff for their dedication.
June Boswell has been attending the Oakland Senior Center since 1969, and said it felt like home. She said it not only catered food and events, but also provided memories.
"We've gotten to know each others lives, and we wanted to stay, however, I think most of us are going over to the Business Loop senior center," Boswell said. "Hopefully we can continue these relationships."
Oakland services will be officially moved over to the Columbia Senior Activity Center Monday.