The Helm at the Boll Life Center is adding new classes in the evening hours and offering additional opportunities to take popular classes only previously available during the day.

The Helm at the Boll Life Center is adding new classes in the evening hours and offering additional opportunities to take popular classes only previously available during the day.

Photo provided by Karen Fontanive

The Helm expands evening programming

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published July 12, 2019

HARPER WOODS — The Helm at the Boll Life Center is expanding its evening programming so that older adults have access to additional programs and more chances to take part in them.

The Helm serves residents of the Harper Woods and Grosse Pointe areas. Its new classes began at the start of July. While the Helm did have some occasional programs in the evening, now there will be regular activities taking place after 5 p.m., and other activities during the day will be having extra classes later in the day.

“We’ve had evening programs sporadically, but now we are putting a whole program together for the evening,” said Peggy Hayes, the executive director of Helm. “This would be regular programming between 5 and 9 p.m. We want to see if we’re attracting people this summer, and we’re doing this by adding new classes, programs and fun events.”

Hayes said there were two major reasons they wanted to expand: they were running out of time during the day for all of the programming they wanted to include, and many individuals weren’t able to come to programs due to work and other conflicts during business hours.

“We got feedback from people that they couldn’t come during the day, so we wanted to respond to that,” she said. “Our biggest goal is to reach people. If people are 55 or 60 years old, they are probably still working, so we wanted to make sure they got in. Plus, we were getting busier during the day and our only way to expand and add more programs was to schedule things in the evening hours.”

Some of the programs beginning at the Helm or getting additional evening classes include painting classes, where attendees can decorate wine glasses; health and education classes, such as yoga; guided meditation classes focusing on calming and relaxation; and mahjong clubs.

Many of these activities will include one-off classes for those who are unable to commit to multiple-week ventures.

“We have ballroom dancing, an evening euchre group (and) we have book clubs,” Hayes said. “Hopefully this will reach some of our residents that work during the day and can’t come to the daytime programs. Doing one-evening classes also lets people who can’t commit to long, ongoing classes. Ballroom dancing is our only ongoing program, and the rest are mostly one-off, single-event programs.”

Among the classes that people can attend in the evenings at the Helm is the body alignment class taught by Gwen Scales. She will educate people on ways to feel better and teach them how to avoid common chronic issues.

“We do so much to our bodies mindlessly, and I focus on the kinesthetics. This teaches you to think about what muscles they are using or if we have a pain or discomfort, we focus on why. Many women, for instance, have a common problem of rotator cuff problems because they’re always reaching into the back seats of their cars. … I want to help people to remain mobile.”

She taught her classes at the Helm during the day, but she said she is excited to welcome more people to her lessons in the evening classes that have been added.

“I like it because it’s an opportunity for people to take it more than one day a week now. Many participants were happy they could come more than once a week or get multiple chances to attend if they had a conflict,” remarked Scales. “People have come up to me and told me they were interested in taking my class at the Helm, but they couldn’t because of work, and this is a great solution to that.”

A guided meditation group also will be meeting in the evenings, led by instructor Jonathan Itchon.

“I will be leading a type of the Max Meditation System, which is easy to learn, simple to do and very effective,” said Itchon. “It focuses on five different phases to relax both the body and the mind.”

Itchon said that meditation is growing in popularity for those over the age of 50 due to it being a great help for many of the issues that people in that age group have to confront.

“In terms of peace of mind or peace within yourself, it’s never too late to gain access to deeper mindfulness,” he said. “It’s especially important if you’re aging, dealing with change or are a caregiver.”

People do need to register for most of these programs, and several are free to attend.

“Some are free, some do have a fee. We try to have a variety of programs, and we encourage people to become a member here, and being a member means a lower member fee,” said Hayes. “People can call us to register at (313) 882-9600, and a full schedule is available on our website at … We’re very excited to see how this works. We expect it to be a big hit.”