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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
After Laurel St. Pierre was done giving her brief introduction to the brand-new Walpole Co-operative Bank South Street Center, she opened the floor to a brief question and answer period. One of the seniors from the Council on Aging wanted to know if the whole building was for them because, as he put it, “the old building was a cafeteria and this place is the Taj Mahal.”
While that might be an exaggeration, the sentiment is very true.
After raising 1.4 million dollars for the structure, Walpole’s new building dedicated to seniors is impressive, filled with both enticing recreational activities and educational and health help.
Everything in the building has been designed with seniors in mind, from a staircase whose stairs are wider and shorter with a bench to rest on halfway up, to an elevator that could get a wheelchair-bound person onto the stage.
But this is far from a dull rest home.
The building has a library and fireplace, two beautiful pool tables, flat screen TVs and an untouched bocce court that was introduced by St. Pierre as a way to entice men to the center, a statement which drew a brief protest from the ladies that expressed their own interest in playing bocce.
Outside of the building is a brick patio, complete with bricks engraved with the names of donors, and a long nature trail walking path that runs alongside the Neponset River. For those who would rather exercise indoors, a gym overlooks the main room.
But the center isn’t all for fun and games. While many senior centers do not, the Walpole Center will have SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) services, foot care, and rides to various events. In a nice, solemn touch, there’s also a permanently empty chair dedicated to the POWs missing in Vietnam.
Director Kerri McManama assured Hometown Weekly that the effect of the new building has already had an impact. In just three days, the center had registered 130 new members - ten percent of the number of seniors that it had during the entirety of 2018.
It is hard to imagine surrounding towns having as impressive a building as this.
So dust off the old pool cue, do your bocce stretches, and visit to the Walpole Co-operative Bank South Street Center.
It’s much closer to the Taj Mahal than it is the town hall cafeteria.