Delores Robinson and Renna Summers at the Hayes Senior Wellness Center.

WASHINGTON – Catherine Pridgen could no longer bear the thought of sitting in the house she once shared with her husband.  After Pridgen’s husband died from cancer, she needed somewhere to go so she would not be depressed. This, she said, was when she learned about the Hayes Senior Wellness Center Center.

Hayes, in Ward 6, is the latest of six senior wellness centers that caters to Washington’s senior residents, ages 60 years and older.

The others include Bernice Elizabeth Fonteneau Senior Wellness Center in Ward 1, Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center in Ward 4, Model Cities Senior Wellness Center in Ward 5, Washington Seniors Wellness Center in Ward 7 and Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center in Ward 8.

Mr. Prince, 98, and Lorenzo Lewis, 84, enjoy a game of checkers at Hayes Senior Wellness Center.

There are classes in nutrition, exercise, reflexology, smoking cessation, and other health care concerns. The centers include seminars, support groups, auxiliary activities, creative arts, and intergenerational programs.  Activities offered at Hayes Center include aerobics exercise, yoga, weight lifting, line dancing, daily lunches and field trips. The services at all the facilities focus on wellness, promoting better health, and preventing disease.  One of the goals, officials said, is provide help that allows seniors to maintain their independence and avoid premature institutionalization, such as nursing homes.

Before coming to the Hayes center, most of the seniors occupied their days at the Sherwood Recreation Center.  The seniors were relocated to Hayes Center because Sherwood Center did not have a functioning kitchen.

Renna Summers,78, who lives alone at her Capitol Hill Towers apartment, has been coming to the Hayes Senior Wellness Center for two years. She particularly likes communicating with people, dancing, and playing cards and games. “I get to go to my doctor’s appointments and my dentist appointments by coming to the center,” she said. “Seabrook picks us up and carries us free of charge.”

Catherine Pridgen, 76, found an oasis at the Hayes Senior Wellness Center following the death of her husband.

Although the center provides an excellent place for seniors to socialize, they still get bored sometimes. “Some days we do nothing,” Delores Robinson said.  “I think we should have more activities. We should go on more field trips and have other games we can be involved in when we’re just sitting around after lunch and doing nothing other than playing cards. Maybe we can have some board games and things like that,”

Another senior at the center who wanted to be referred to as ‘The Doctor’ or ‘Pastor Allen’ said he was very appreciative the center. “I was born in the ’40s and they had boys’ clubs, not really community centers,” he said. “The community centers are new for seniors.”

There are approximately 68 community centers in DC that cater to children, teens, adults and seniors. These centers provide a gateway to learning and involve fun activities. There is usually a center that is close to your home.

Pridgen, like many other seniors, sees the community centers as a home away from home.

“When somebody dies and you are in the house where they lived, you get depressed,” she said in reference to her decased husband. So I said,‘I got to go,  I can’t stay here.’ We were like two old people. I would be in one room watching my show and he would be in one room. And every time I look around when I couldn’t see him, I said ‘Oh no, I got to go.’”

For more information on Washington’s senior wellness centers, call 202.724.5622 or visit http://dcoa.dc.gov/service/senior-wellness-centers