The Beat of Laurel: Hidden gem discovered in Laurel
By Bob Reilly
People will often share how they discovered a hidden secret, whether it be a vacation getaway or a unique dining experience. This kind of word-of-mouth information, information that’s based on personal experience, may convince people to seek out that thing, or that experience, themselves.
So, let me take a minute to share some information, just between friends, about a shining little gem right here in Laurel.
I recently dropped in at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center, at 7120 Contee Road, adjacent to the University of Maryland Laurel Regional Hospital — and I’m glad I did. The facility is under the auspices of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), Department of Parks and Recreation in Prince George’s County.
Upon arrival, I was immediately greeted by the front desk receptionist, Catarina Wood, who cheerfully gave me a tour of the facility. She was so sweet and helpful that I spontaneously broke into a short song serenade. We laughed, and then I heard a voice from down the hall calling out, “Young man, are you a musician?” Well, whenever someone refers to me as a young man, I perk up. “Yes, I am! Can we talk?”
I walked over to a table down the hall and was invited to sit down with three members of the center, Betty, Mary and Lee. We chatted about many things, but mostly how much each of them loved the facility, with its bingo games, special activities, arts and crafts, community-focused outreach, seminars, guest speakers, courses, classes and concerts. There’s never a dull moment.
Before I departed, the ladies insisted I sing them a song, so I sang a few verses of “My Girl” by The Temptations., They happily joined me in the chorus, and we became quick friends.
Bottom line, I love this place.
I reached out to Nancy Pfeffer, the regional manager, for the center, for more information and comments about this gift to the community.
I inquired about the cost to join, and Pfeffer noted that the senior center is ”for people who are 50 years or older. For seniors over 60, the facility is free.”
“We partner with the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Friendship Club. This group is housed in our building. They offer special activities including the popular Bingo on Tuesdays,”” she said. “We offer fitness classes, Spanish language classes, Zumba dance classes, computer classes, Bid Whist card games and seasonal outdoor events, which cater to a broad range of special interests. Annually, we’re directly involved with county-wide events such as the veterans celebration, the senior picnic, the senior line dance party, Bingo-Fest and senior health and fitness day.”
Monday through Friday, a hot meal is available for a small fee to people who register with the Prince George’s County Department of Family Services in .
The center also does several community outreach events, including Soup for the Soul, a free offering where people can receive a bag prepared with soup and other goodies. Loving Hands, an offspring of the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Friendship Club, meets weekly to knit blankets for cancer patients.
I was especially curious about the workout room, the great room, the meeting rooms and the kiln in the ceramics classroom.
“Yes, we have a wonderful workout room complete with treadmills, cycles and other exercise equipment. The Great Room, and several smaller meeting rooms, are used for many events. They are all available for rent with individual fees based on capacity and other needs. The ceramic firing kiln room, and creative arts classes are quite popular with our members. We showcase much of the artwork throughout our building. We even have an Avenue of The Arts, which highlights works from local artists.”
The city of Laurel bus will drop people at the center and residents can also use the Call-A-Bus service for transport.
So, there you have it.
Get over there, enjoy yourself, learn something new, get a good workout and have some fun.
Nancy, Catarina, Betty, Mary, Lee and the entire staff are ready to welcome you with open smiles.