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County Senior Center in Manassas celebrates 30 years of operation

Judging by the way the Manassas Senior center fills up every day, it’s a popular place to be and has been for the last 30 years. On Jan. 18, people got together at the center to celebrate the 30th anniversary with cake and punch.

Prince William Supervisor Marty Nohe said the senior center would not have been built if not for the foresight of the contemporaries of those who use it today.  “It was your generation that was saying 30 years ago, ‘We need this for our future.’ Now you are here getting to take advantage of the vision.”

Sarah Henry, the director of the Area Agency on Aging, said it is the people who use the senior center who make it a special place. “You are the reason that we are here every single day, and you are the heart of this senior center.”

Susan Gilbert, the site manager for the senior center, said people who come to the senior center come for different reasons, including having the opportunity to meet new people and make friends, finding their way out of grief or loss, or because their loved ones told them they needed to get out more. “You all come for different reasons, and that’s what makes it such a wonderful center. Every person that comes to this center brings something special. You may not think so, but you do.”

Maureen Guillot and Kathleen Frampton, two friends from painting classes at the senior center, said the place means a lot to them. “We make friends,” Guillot said. “It’s a special group. It’s a wonderful place to come to.”

Frampton, who taught art for 30 years in Prince William and Fairfax counties, said she gets a kick out of the senior center. “Someone is always saying something fun or silly. It’s a lot of laughs.”

Gilbert, who has worked at the senior center for 28 years, said the age of people who use the senior center ranges from 55 to 101 years old. Over the years, Gilbert said, people have become more health conscious and that has changed some of the programs offered at the center. “The biggest change that I’ve seen is that people are concerned about their diet and health. They come for fitness and exercise and to participate in dance classes. I’ve seen a huge swing toward people being more healthy and fit.”

Still some things have remained the same, Gilbert said. “We’ve had bridge and ceramics as long as I’ve been here. We still have table tennis and billiards.”

Gilbert also said the senior center wouldn’t have been able to operate over the years without the volunteers who do everything from attending to the front desk, to teaching classes, to delivering Meals on Wheels. “We have a very small staff, and we rely heavily on volunteers. Everybody has something to share, something to offer and our center would not operate without volunteers.”

For more information about the senior centers and other Area Agency on Aging programs, visit

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