Seniors looking to learn Spanish, paint or just make some friends find fulfillment at the Life Enrichment Center.
FOREST HILLS - Ronna Metcalf isn't one to sit still.
She used to manage a general contracting company.
Now the 59-year-old executive director of the Life Enrichment Center strives to help older adults stay active.
"This center argues against the stereotypes of aging," says Metcalf, who has run the center for the past four years.
"It's one-of-a-kind, the only private, nonprofit center for well, active adults that offers classes in the area," says Metcalf, a trained gerontologist who has run the center for four years.
The center, at 9704 N Boulevard, was begun in 1980 by a coalition of various church members who wanted a central gathering place for seniors with no religious affiliation. The center does not provide meals and has no medical staff, although health department officials have given flu shots there.
Mostly, the center is a place to socialize, make friends, and have fun. Members of all ages are welcome first-come, first-served.
The center's more than 30 classes include hand-drumming and cartooning, tai chi, painting, conversational Spanish and assorted types of exercise.
"I absolutely love it," said Mary Teresa Batty, 79, who was seeking an art. "The atmosphere and the people are so nice."
A former legislative aid studying creative writing at the center, Thalia Potter, says, "it's a remarkable place that encourages everyone's creative self."
Metcalf is excited about the newest course, Experimentation in Art, which uses models and various media. Grants, private donations, and fundraising keep the doors open. Users pay nominal fees for the classes, which often are taught by volunteers.
Every Saturday, as part of the outreach program, the center sells jewelry, arts and crafts in Ybor City at the Fresh Market.
There are satellite classes offered at the Museum of Science & Industry, and Metcalf is looking for other locations in South Tampa and New Tampa.
In time, she says they will need a larger building.
But for now, she is happy with the center's comfortable, relaxed environment.
- For more information, call (813) 932-0241.IF YOU GO:
An open house on Nov. 15 from 9:30 a.m until 2:30 p.m. will offer demonstrations of classes, an art show and food. Guests can purchase paintings by center members.