The Dawson County Government and the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce officially cut the ribbon on the new Pauline Stephens Ivey Senior Life Center at Veterans Memorial Park this week.
Dozens of community members and local leaders gathered at the new center to hear comments from county commissioners, senior center and chamber representatives before enjoying refreshments and touring the center.
Those in attendance included state Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville), who said that the senior center is something very close to his heart, so the newly renovated senior center opening is very exciting.
“My dad suffered with dementia and sometime back in 2018 this place became a home for my dad during the day every day,” Wade said. “To our family, it was a blessing, and this is going to be a blessing to our community; this is a great place and I know [my dad] is smiling right now.”
The renovated center will offer many new resources for elderly citizens, including a game room, movie room, kitchen, nurse’s office and large multi-purpose room. A walkway connects the new center to the old one right next door, so seniors can walk between the two buildings easily.
Senior Center Director Dawn Johnson said that all of the center’s new additions will allow Dawson County Senior Services to better serve the county’s elderly residents.
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“Now they’ve got two buildings that they can utilize, so this will be the day-to-day activities and where the people that come in to enjoy a hot meal can hang out,” Johnson said. “And then they can go next door for exercise or art or to lift weights or whatever, and the buildings connect.”
The center is named after Pauline Stephens Ivey, who passed away in 2014. After Ivey’s passing, the executors of her will helped to distribute her money to many local churches and nonprofits, including a large donation which was given to the Dawson County Senior Center to fund a new building.
Johnson said that she knew Ivey while she was still alive, and she believes the senior center is a project that Ivey would have approved of.
“I remember Ms. Ivey well in my previous position at the tax assessor’s office, and they were very frugal, very salt-of-the-earth people,” Johnson said. “They were just always conscious of their money, and I know that she’s very very pleased at the way that they made sure her money was spent.”
Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Mandy Power said that the elderly citizens of the county are very deserving of the new center.
“I think we can all agree that no one deserves this more in our community than our seniors,” Power said. “I will tell you some of the most fun afternoons I’ve ever had was coming to play bingo at the senior center and what a fun group of people they are.”
The center has been open with limited capacities since the end of 2020, and Johnson said that she can’t wait to have the center open all the way.
“We had to put so much on hold because of [COVID-19] and then we were able to open up part-time and that’s what we’re continuing to try to do,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to get as many people as will get vaccinated so that we have a healthier community here, and to bring back all of our services.”
June Green, a local resident who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said that the senior center and Dawson County Senior Services have made a huge difference to her throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They’ve been great about calling and they bring us lunches,” Green said. “Or they’ll call and say, ‘if there’s anything you need here’s my home number or my cell phone,’ so that’s just been wonderful.”
Green said that she’s excited for all the new activities and additions the new center will bring.
“This kind of opens it up for us with this pandemic; even though we have to wear a mask it’s wonderful to have all these new activities we can do here,” Green said. “We’re starting to open up a little at a time and there’s just so much here that we can do; it keeps us active.”