A public meeting will be hosted on Tuesday, May 23, to offer seniors in Troy the chance to provide feedback to the city of Troy about its offered events and programs, such as its clay craft class.

A public meeting will be hosted on Tuesday, May 23, to offer seniors in Troy the chance to provide feedback to the city of Troy about its offered events and programs, such as its clay craft class.

Photo provided by Alyssa Firth

Residents ponder future of senior citizen programming in Troy

Meeting planned to garner seniors’ input

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published April 26, 2023

 Several senior citizens in Troy are encouraging the city to increase the number of programs created for seniors, such as the “A Night in Hollywood Dance,” pictured.

Several senior citizens in Troy are encouraging the city to increase the number of programs created for seniors, such as the “A Night in Hollywood Dance,” pictured.

Photo provided by Alyssa Firth


TROY — Changes may be coming to some of Troy’s programming aimed at senior citizens, but some seniors are saying that far more is needed far sooner.

Troy recently received a $250,000 Oakland County Creative Endeavors Grant for “improvements to the local senior center.”

However, Troy does not have a designated senior center, so the funds will be used to make improvements to the Troy Community Center, located at 3179 Livernois Road, focusing on amenities that will enhance programming for seniors.

“In the past, when the community center was first built, there was talk of making it both a senior center and community center, but that was decided against when it was built,” said Brian Goul, Troy’s recreation director. “It’s probably 50/50 whether a city of this size has a dedicated senior programming or senior center millage. Some do, and some don’t, but many municipalities in this area do, such as Rochester, Sterling Heights and so forth.”

“This building is 127,000 square feet, so there is more than enough space for both community center programming, youth programming and senior programming,” added Allyson Leach, the recreation supervisor for adult and senior programming for the Troy Recreation Department. “Senior programs usually happen more during the day, and youth programming happens more in the evening.”

The changes will include improvements to the center’s bocce and shuffleboard courts, as well as renovations to an area of the community center that will be designed specifically for senior programming.

“What we’re aiming to bring back once we have this room completed is daytime movies, the speaker and lecture series, possibly prize bingo, and more groups and clubs that would meet in that room,” said Leach. “It is not slated to be completed until early next year, at the earliest.”

However, many seniors in Troy are saying that it should not take so long to reinstitute senior programming, much of which has been lost due to the recession and then the pandemic.

“Back around 2010, when the financial crisis hit, they had a number of senior programs here, but those were often scrapped because of budget cuts. The Friends of Troy Seniors was created to maintain and enhance those senior programs,” said Bill Rhodes, the chairman of the Friends of Troy Seniors. “We are an all-volunteer organization. At one point we had 1,300 members. We were doing things like senior picnics, ice cream socials, document shredding, bingo, exercise programs, distributing Focus: Hope boxes, and had a lunch and learn program where every month we would have a speaker come in and talk about a subject seniors would appreciate.”

“Some exercise programs were too expensive for seniors to take part in, so the Friends of Troy Seniors subsidized them to keep the costs down,” Rhodes continued. “We would raise money through the city of Troy garage sale, but the city said a few years ago that they didn’t make enough money off of that to continue it. We do still have an annual purse and jewelry sale here once a year, and that is our biggest fundraiser.”

Some Troy residents are saying that the city of Troy is underserving local seniors, causing them to travel to senior centers in neighboring cities such as Rochester Hills and Sterling Heights instead.

“They put new rules in and got rid of some important programs. They got rid of the (Alcoholics Anonymous) program and the Narcotics Anonymous group. They made it impossible for them to meet because they are only allowing them something like one slot a month,” said Cynthia Wilsher, a Friends of Troy Seniors member. “This is a community service. They took care of everything. A community needs programs like this. I lovingly refer to this not as a ‘community center’ but as a ‘Troy Business Center’ because they just want it for revenue.”

Wilsher said that several senior programs have been short-shrifted or outright canceled.

“I have been co-leader of the Troy Community Center quilt group for 25 years,” she explained. “We had 30 women in our group, and now we are down to six because they took our room away that we had for 23 years. We were in the front room, and we could lay our quilts out from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now we are there only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In four hours, by the time we get set up, we perhaps get two hours of sewing before we have to start packing it all back up again. … They said this makes it fair for everyone. We’ve been here, we’ve done things for the city, we made handmade quilted bags for competitions and for hospitals and nursing homes.”

City officials countered by saying that the changes were made out of necessity due to factors such as rising costs and losing instructors for certain classes.

“We’re doing our best to provide programming, given the circumstances,” said Leach. “Coming back from the pandemic, we focused on streamlining our programs. This meant things like educational opportunities were duplicating a lot of what the library was doing, so we started focusing more on our recreation department mission, which was more on enrichment and fitness.”

Leach said that they will be hosting a meeting next month to gather feedback from seniors to provide better services to them and to listen to their feedback about the grant.

“It’s at 1:30 p.m. in Room 402 (of the community center) on Tuesday, May 23. It will be an informational meeting. We will be speaking about the grant money and discussing what we plan on doing with it and hearing feedback on programming from seniors,” said Leach. “This grant will, hopefully, give us more opportunities to keep on promoting senior programming in the city. … We are listening to (seniors’) feedback and working to do more going forward.”

Many senior citizens are wondering if this will mark a return to form for the city or simply serve as Band-Aid for their complaints. Others are wondering why they have to wait until the space is complete before such programming can return, since there were no issues with having them at the community center in years past.

“(The grant) isn’t going to hurt. I am just wondering why we need that space for programs. Why can’t we have bingo now or speakers now or movies now? There doesn’t seem to be any drive to get programs moving for seniors. The building hasn’t changed; what is stopping us from doing this now?” said Rhodes. “Some of the programs are at night, and seniors don’t like to drive at night. We’re better off with programs during the day anyway, while other people are at work or kids are in school. The library has some wonderful programs, but they’re all at night. We want some senior programs that seniors can actually go to.”