Seniors have a special place where they can socialize while engaging in activities geared towards health and wellness courtesy of their hosts at Valparaiso Parks and Recreation’s Banta Center. Helen Ramones and Wendy Riggle serve as the Banta Center’s front desk administrator and center director, respectively, and help to coordinate a variety of programs, classes and activities.
“The Banta Center provides a safe place for seniors to interact with other peers during the day, make friends, and keep active not only in daily life but in the community as well,” Riggle said. “We try to provide various presentations that these seniors might not always have access to if they were not a part of the Banta Family. It is very important for some because this might be the only interaction that they get during the day or week and the only hot, balanced meal they might eat. We are truly a family here.”
According to Ramones, the Banta team works hand-in-hand with FirstLight Home Care, Silver Birch of Michigan City, Brookdale Senior Living Valparaiso, Life Care Center, Valparaiso Senior Village, United Way Northwest Indiana Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Dunes Hospice, Porter County TRIAD, Comfort Keepers, Story Point Senior Living, Porter County Aging & Community Services (bus service), At Home Quality Care, and FirstCare Home Care Services.
“Most of these facilities donate their time by calling bingo on Fridays or providing donations to our center for various parties held throughout the year,” Ramones said. “We have had the Valparaiso Police Department come in for various presentations and for ‘Lunch with a Cop’ to sit and chat with the seniors. Pines Village provides our lunch program for daily lunch at the center. We also partner with Panera Bread twice a week, Mondays and Fridays. This program is called ‘Day Old Bread’ and is food packaged and put out for the members to take home for free. Dunes Hospice provides us with cupcakes once a month for our monthly birthdays. We also have a Community Healthcare System nurse come in once a month for the ‘Ask the Nurse’ program. This is a great time for members to get answers to their healthcare questions and get a blood pressure check.”
The Banta Center offers the following with the assistance of volunteers who help lead activities:
- Fitness room with conditioning machines and free weights
- Exercise classes (Pilates, Qi Gong, Reformers, Theraband, exercise with DVD)
- Quiet corners to sit and read with coffee
- Sing-a-longs with piano accompaniments
- Line dancing
- Sewing machines available to do mending or start quilting
- Painting class
- Knit Wits group (knits and crochets items donated to various organizations for children/families in need)
- Retiree group meeting
- Aging support group
- Lunch & Learns (education on senior resources)
- Flu shots and a community voting site
- Multipurpose room rental with kitchen and restroom access for family/group functions
While the Banta Center continues to provide a wide variety of exercise classes and activities, there are quite a few games that remain very popular with senior members including duplicate bridge, bingo, bunco, pinochle, Mexican Train, canasta and mahjong.
“And, of course, any parties that we host,” Riggle said.
The Banta Center also is a Northwest Indiana Community Action nutrition site that serves hot, nutritious lunches at 11:15 a.m., Monday-Friday. Lunches are complimentary to anyone 60 and older, though a voluntary contribution of $1.50 is suggested. Reservations for the lunches must be made at least two business days ahead by calling 219-462-1301. You do not have to be a Banta Senior member to partake in the lunch program.
Located at 605 Beech Street in Valparaiso, the Banta Center is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Adults ages 50 and up can take part in any of a wide variety of activities for a nominal fee paid either annually ($60) or semi-annually ($35). For more information, visit valpoparks.org/196/Banta-Senior-Center or on Facebook, search Banta Senior Center, facebook.com/605BeechSt/.