Berks Encore opens new center in Strausstown

Item photo by Shea Singley Berks Encore-Strausstown grand opening.
Item photo by Shea Singley Berks Encore-Strausstown grand opening.

Berks Encore recently opened its seventh center, this time in Strausstown. The Berks Encore-Strausstown Center is located in the same facility as the St. Joseph Health Network right off of Route 183, in the refurbished former Strausstown Elementary School.

“Berks Encore is excited to introduce our programming and services to the Strausstown area,” said LuAnn Oatman, president of Berks Encore, in a press release. “Our hope is that we’ll be able to expand our outreach to this underserved area, including expansion to our Meals on Wheels program. We invite area residents to stop by our new center to meet our center manager and participate in our activities. We’re also looking for volunteers to assist with packing, serving and delivering meals.”

Hamburg Berks Encore seniors will recognize a familiar face at the Strausstown Center, Terry Becker who was the center manager at Hamburg is now filling that role at the Strausstown location. Many of the programs will be the same as at the Hamburg location including Zumba Gold, Silver Sneakers classes and chair exercise. Medicare and Affordable Care Act counseling services, which are at all the centers, will also be available in Strausstown. Prior to the grand opening ceremony, Becker’s daughter gave a presentation on the Affordable Care Act. The center will also include a knitting, crocheting and quilting class and of course a favorite, bingo.

Speakers congratulated all those who made the center a possibility and emphasized that they want to make the center a great place and resource.

“We’re here to make the connections for you. To give you the best possible care,” said Oatman. She also went on to say, “I want to be in Berks County for the rest of my life,” explaining why it is important to her and her team to do the best they possibly can with the center.

“Our commitment to this center and this community remains strong and we look forward to growing old with you,” said Nancy Yocom, board chair for Berks Encore.

Other speakers included Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt, Berks County Community Foundation Vice President for grantmaking and communication Heidi Williamson, representing Senator Pat Toomey’s office Marta Gabriel, representing Senator Robert Casey’s office Carol Obando-Derstine, St. Joseph’s Health Network Vice President of business development Mary Brown and Barry Miller filling in for Scott Sechler, the Strausstown Campus chairman who was unable to attend.

“My wife and I are newcomers to this community and can attest to what a great community it is,” said Miller. “All that I can say is that my wife and I are very happy to be here. Please spread the word on this wonderful facility.”

Grants from various organizations helped to make the center possible including a $20,000 grant from Berks County Community Foundation.

“The senior center in Strausstown will have a substantial impact on the quality of life for people who live in this beautiful corner of the county,” said Williamson.

It was determined that the community needed such a facility through a survey conducted by Kutztown University and the Berks County Area Agency on Aging that surveyed 5,000 residents in the Strausstown area.

The center is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday and will provide various activities and programs. It is located at 44 East Avenue, Strausstown and the phone number is 610-488-5770.

“This is your center. You tell us and we’ll get that ready for you,” said Oatman at the end of the ceremony.

A meet and greet was set up before the ceremony and a lunch was provided by Way-Har Farms. Strausstown residents as well as residents from the Berks Encore-Hamburg came out to celebrate the new location.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.

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