Rachel Padgett's eyes lit up Thursday as the door of the new elevator at the Dawson County Senior Center opened and welcomed her to an activity area she had never seen.
"Oh, look at that," she said pointing to a corner filled with workout equipment and a row of tables set up for a watercolor class in the center of the room. "Now I can do some painting and exercise."
Officials, supporters, volunteers and a room full of senior citizens were on hand Dec. 27 to dedicate the new elevator.
Director Margie Weaver said the center had needed an elevator for years. It will allow wheelchair-bound and walking-aid seniors to participate in activities offered in the basement.
"We are so grateful and so happy to be able to have our elevator. This means so much to our seniors," she said.
Weaver thanked all who contributed to the project.
"I want to really pay tribute to the ones that helped me with the fundraisers," she said. "This was not a small, single person effort. It was an effort of the whole community that wanted to see the center have an elevator to help us."
A community-backed fundraising campaign for the elevator, which began in 2009, collected $42,832. Then in February, county commissioners voted to cover the remaining nearly $17,000 needed to install it.
Commission Chair Mike Berg commended Weaver on her commitment to the project and thanked the community for its support.
"Absolutely Margie, it was your dedication pushing that forward ... getting us moving that really helped," he said. "And a special thank you to groups like the Rotary Club and woman's club and the volunteers that came out to help."
Prior to the elevator, seniors who wanted to participate in activities had to be driven around back to the lower level of the building by staff.
Mary Bailey said having the elevator is going to be a blessing for the seniors.
"It's going to be a lot easier for me to be able to do some of the things they have downstairs," she said.