Seniors participated in a number of activities at the new drop-in center on Tuesday, including those pictured attending an educational session from Evergreen Credit Union. Contributed / Karla Doyon

A new senior drop-in center at the South Portland Community Center offers a way for both residents and non-residents to connect with one another through educational programs, board games, tea time, and even Wii Sports.

On Tuesday, the first official day the new space was open, 22 people dropped in.

“It’s bright, it’s cheerful, and just very welcoming,” said Judy Simpson who visited during the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony last week and planned to show up again this week. “They did such a beautiful job.”

The community center previously held “drop-in” activities for seniors, but without a dedicated space it was often forced to cut those events short.

“The room that we had before was a multipurpose room,” Simpson said. “We would often get kicked out because of (other programs).”

The drop-in center has been in the works for over two years but was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“It kept getting postponed,” said Karla Doyon, recreation coordinator for senior programs at the community center. “City Hall had to come here and use it for office space because they were too crowded there when we had to stay 6 feet apart.”

While the pandemic put the project on hold, it also emphasized the need for such a space. Over 18% of South Portland’s 26,993 residents are age 65 or older, according to U.S. Census estimates from 2021.

“They were very isolated during the pandemic,” Doyon said of seniors. “I did what I could via Zoom … I had one woman who didn’t come out of her house for two years.”

The drop-in center provides a space for people over 50 to reconnect, whether it’s through scheduled activities or simply chatting over a cup of coffee.

The best part? There’s no charge.

“The regular senior programs, we go on trips, we have exercise classes and things that you pay for,” Doyon said. “This is all free.”

Jae Casella just started working for the city as a senior center program assistant this week and is delighted by the response it has gotten.

“I’m a huge advocate for senior activity and community,” Casella said. “It’s a really great resource.”

The senior drop-in center is open, to nonresidents, too,  Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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