Delores Douglass may have been around the sun a few times, but her passion for improving the lives of others has only grown. Now 84, the philanthropist is looking to help seniors at the Woodlawn Senior Center by advocating for expansion. (Courtesy Photo)

By Beverly Richards,
Special to the AFRO

When she isn’t meeting with her various groups of friends as the “Queen” of Atrium Village, a senior living community, twice retired 84-year-old Delores Douglass can be found looking for new ways to give back to her community. An advocate for the elderly, Douglass’ main project has been and continues to be the Woodlawn Senior Center. There have been two rounds of support for the center.

“Since 2008, I have been going to Chesapeake Avenue in Towson to the planning board, begging for more space, because membership was growing substantially.” 

The second time, Douglass donned a hardhat to help break ground on an expansion project for the center.

“That was the fun part. It made me tear up to know we finally got space,” she said. “There will be enough room to do what we want to do, to have some room for all the activities.”

The overhaul of the center will add approximately 9,200 square feet of additional space to the existing 3,600 square foot center and include a large multipurpose room capable of housing two pickleball courts, large line dancing or aerobics classes, parties and celebrations. There will also be a fitness center, two additional classrooms and council office space. In addition, the center will have a new parking area with 50 spaces, double its current number.

According to information released by Baltimore County Government, “the Woodlawn Senior Center is Baltimore County’s 19th senior center serving Baltimore County residents age 60 and older. The center has adopted ‘Home Away From Home’ as its slogan since it reflects the feelings shared by so many of the residents of Woodlawn and surrounding communities.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing people have someplace safe to have fun in. I want to play games with people– that makes me happy,” said Douglass, who has called Baltimore home for almost 50 years. 

The $6.7 million project for the seniors includes $2 million in State funding, an $800,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Aging and $3.9 million in County capital funding. The newly expanded Woodlawn Senior Center is expected to open in early 2024. 

Though her fervor to effect change shows no sign of subsiding, Douglass’ journey has been no easy task.

In 2022, she lost her home to a fire and her children moved her into Atrium Village. Douglass also suffered a stroke last year, but still found a way to connect with others. 

“I have different groups of friends. I like to mix it up. I’m with one group one day and another the next day,” said Douglass, who has grown into somewhat of a celebrity in the Woodlawn’s senior citizen community. 

She continues to support the elders of Baltimore County through her fundraising initiatives.

When asked what lessons she hopes to teach others about giving and living, her response was, “We are all here for a reason and we need [others] to benefit from that. Do what you can without trying to make somebody into something you, they’re not.” 

When it comes to how she plans to spend the rest of her days, Douglass won’t be sitting around idle anytime soon.
[I’m going to] live until I die,” she said. 

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