Washington Township’s office of community affairs has formed a free walking club for seniors that meets every Tuesday at Washington Lake Park.
With the senior center still closed, the township wanted to create a way for the elderly to go back out into the community in a safe and healthy way. The club meets at 11 a..m. in Lot D at the park, and Pavilion A provides outdoor space for seniors to get together before and after the walk. No reservations are required.
“Through the pandemic, I think it has been really hard on the seniors,” said Director of Senior Programs and Community Affairs Lori Morello. “Most of us have had ways to get out of the house safely, and they were definitely more compromised than we were … So as we were approaching better times and some of the restrictions were being lifted, one of those allowed us to meet outside.”
The walks are led by Morello and have previously welcomed guests such as Mayor Joann Gattinelli and Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik. The walks usually last about 30 minutes, and each week offers a different route. Local and non-local seniors are welcome.
“Three new women came who all lived alone and didn’t know each other,” Morello noted. But by the end of the walk, they were exchanging numbers. They were all different age groups, but they were bonding over everything they were going through with the pandemic. It was really nice.”
According to Morello, the township is working diligently to reopen the senior center and invite all 300 members back for $3 lunches and Bingo, along with other games and events. The township has consulted the state health department to improve standards and implement new safety guidelines. A reopening date has not been determined.
“Something as simple as a daily walk helps you live a healthier lifestyle,” said Morello. “And it is beneficial for them (seniors) to engage in conversation that isn’t someone they live with.”