MILTON — President Neil Kennedy of the Ballston Area Senior Citizens wants to make one thing clear: seniors have a lot more living to do and are not wasting time doing it.
“People think all we do is sit around and wait to die,” Kennedy said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
While they do sit down sometimes, it is usually because they are playing Bingo, or engaging in a rousing game of cards.
Most of the time, though, they are off to grand adventures like trips to Atlantic City and cruises on Lake George. They have their own chorus, they hold monthly dances, they play golf and shoot pool. In short, they are not letting life pass them by.
The seniors meet every Thursday at the Milton Community Center for a full day of activities and a pot-luck lunch. At a recent lunch in May, members Jack and Nancy Kuzlowich talked about what they love about the senior group, which at last count numbered more than 400 members.
“It’s all about the activities and the friendships,” they said. “We go on some fantastic trips, but we also spread the word about joining the group and joining in on the fun.”
After lunch there was a short meeting, but then the afternoon fun began. A 50-50 raffle was held, and then people broke into groups. Some were working on hats for the “Hat Day” celebration which at the time was coming up on June 13. Others started working on crafts. Still others played Bingo.
Kuzlowich laughed about the last. “Seniors like to gamble,” he said. “Seniors love gambling.”
The chorus group meets on Monday nights to practice; the singers go to elder care homes like Maplewood Manor during the holidays and throughout the year.
“They go to cheer up the people and sing,” Kuzlowich said.
Other activities include bowling, impromptu picking sessions and something called Friday Night Games.
But on a serious note, the seniors are looking for advocates to speak out on what it’s like to be a senior citizen.
“We would like people to understand who they are supporting,” Kuzlowich said. “In Japan they take care of their elders. Here we put them in homes for the elderly, then take away the homes.”
Member Pat Haskell also likes the activities, especially the crafts. She is a member of the group who makes crafts for the Bazaar. She also likes the monthly dances.
“They are really nice,” she said.
The dances sometimes include square dancing and line dancing, Haskell said.
“I don’t participate in those, though,” she said with a laugh.
Haskell said she joined when her husband passed away two years ago.
“I had time on my hands,” she said. “I like it here. I like the friendships and the socializing.”
Linda Miskanin agreed with her. A member for six years, she she likes the people, the trips and all the activities.
“It’s better than sitting home and feeling sorry for yourself,” she said.
The group has a budget of $66,000, funded in part by the Town of Milton, the Town of Ballston, and the Village of Ballston Spa. The municipal contributions total roughly $30,000. The group makes up the rest in dues (only $10 a year) and fundraisers.
Kuzlowich said all the money they make at fundraisers is put right back into the group.
“Our mission is to make life better for seniors,” he said.
Their biggest fund raiser is the annual Christmas Bazaar. A lot of the items offered are made by the craft group.
In spite of all these activities and the size of the group, Kuzlowich hopes to draw even more members in as well as encourage members who are not active to participate more fully.
“We have 300 people who are not directly active,” he said. “We want to encourage them.”
To encourage new members, the group will go to area clubs such as the Ballston Spa Rotary Club to recruit seniors.
“We talked to other clubs,” Kuzlowich said. “They thought all we did was go on trips.”
For that reason, Kuzlowich wants to develop a PowerPoint presentation to educate people on what his group does.
Another idea he had is for an Open House Membership Gala. The event is planned for this Thursday, Jun. 20 and is open to the public. The event features concessions, a magician, door prizes, a raffle and ends with a free feature family film “Puss in Boots”.
The group’s mission statement sums up what the group is all about: simply to provide a quality-of-life enrichment opportunity and experience for Ballston Area Seniors.
For information on joining the group or participating in any activities, call (518) 885-6740.
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