Editorial, Local, Mauldin

Becoming Accessible

Taft Matney

Every year, usually in February, Mauldin’s mayor and city council get together in the upstairs conference room at City Hall and discuss what our priorities will be for the coming year. Several years ago, one of those priorities was improving Mauldin’s facilities so they are more accessible for the people who use them.

We aren’t talking about more entrances to parking lots. We’re talking about making Mauldin’s facilities accessible so our neighbors with physical challenges can use them.

For the kids, we’ve been working on playgrounds at our parks. Our top priority now is retrofitting the Ray Hopkins Senior Center so there aren’t barriers for the roughly 4000 seniors taking part in our programs each month.

Last month, Lieutenant Governor Kevin Bryant announced that the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging’s Senior Center Permanent Improvement Project (PIP) grant program awarded $325,000 to the City of Mauldin, and the city is providing a local financial match, under the conditions of the grant.

The Senior Center Permanent Improvement Project grant program was established by the General Assembly in 1991. Administered by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging, the PIP grant program has funded construction and renovations projects at senior sites throughout the state.

The PIP funds will be used to renovate the Ray Hopkins Senior Center to current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The senior center’s enhancements will include the installation of an elevator, hallway widening, and kitchen and bathroom improvements to accommodate a steadily growing number of seniors who utilize the center.

According to Lt. Gov. Bryant, “These renovations and improvements will allow the center to expand its reach in the Mauldin community, and I am very appreciative of the state and local leaders who have worked so hard to make it happen.”

He also said, “An active senior lifestyle encourages independence and enhances overall quality of life.” In Mauldin, he doesn’t know how right he is.

Last month our senior program took a pontoon tour of Lake Jocassee, enjoyed a wine tasting at City Scape Winery, took in a Greenville Drive baseball game, and went to Furman for a lakeside concert. This month, seniors will kayak the French Broad River and take a two-day mystery trip (Don’t even think about asking Suzanne where it is. She won’t tell anybody. Trust me on this. I can’t get her to talk.). They have a golf tournament in September, a behind-the-scenes tour of Churchill Downs, and a trip to Branson.

While those activities illustrate the lt. gov’s. point about an active lifestyle, they show our senior program’s life outside of the Ray Hopkins Senior Center. It’s life inside the center that needs updating for that accessibility. We’re installing a new gym floor to replace the original floor from 1989, and we’re making the updates funded by the PIP grant because life inside the center is just as active as outside.

When an average day at the Ray Hopkins Senior Center begins with a 9:00 a.m. exercise class and rolls in to Mahjong, cornhole, no-chair yoga, poker, an original production from the Elderberries Drama Club, crocheting, pickleball, Phase 10 card groups, and freestyle art, it is extremely important that we provide an accessible place for our seniors to enjoy the active life they earned.

Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at tmatney@mauldincitysc.com.♦

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