NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – After decades as the preferred gathering place of New Providence’s senior citizens – and sometimes others in the community – the senior center is getting a face lift.

The project started nearly a year ago, when Virginia Liberato, who works at Creative Wallcoverings and Interiors in New Providence, was talking with people from the recreation department and found out that the senior center really needed updating.

“I grew up in this town,” Liberato said. “I remember when the senior center went up. I know how many people use it and I know what an important part of the community it is.”

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Her father used to visit the senior center, and her mother still lives in town, so Liberato said she’s aware of how much the senior center means to New Providence. She met with Maureen Parker, grants and special needs coordinator; and Peggy Brodeur, senior center coordinator, to discuss what renovations the center needs. Liberato said that while she intended to get “a little involved” with the project, it wasn’t long before she was very involved.

“It just needs a face lift,” she explained. “It needs new floors, bookcases, the entranceway needs redone… we want the center to be more inviting.”

Donated to the borough by the DeCorso family in 1959, the facility includes a library, solarium, kitchen and areas for presentations, performances, exhibits, games, exercise and parties. The Senior Citizens bus provides transportation to many of the center's activities and events.

Once home to a bus company, the building hasn’t been redone since the 1970s, and the interior still has much of the original lighting, furniture and fixtures.

Liberato, with input from Parker and Brodeur, put together two color schemes for the seniors to choose from, both neutral shades but one with more blues and the other with more greens. Samples of the colors are on boards that are on display in the center for the seniors to view and discuss.

The renovations are being done in phases so the seniors are not displaced. And even though they will be unable to use different rooms during the project, Brodeur said they are excited and supportive about the center getting an upgrade.

The only part of the building that’s had work done recently is the solarium. In 2002, the center received a grant from Union County and used the funds to build the solarium onto one side of the building. A business in Summit was remodeling and donated many of their plants, which lend a leafy green freshness to the room.

“We have some master gardeners who are members of the senior center, and they take care of the plants,” Brodeur said. There are also plants just outside the solarium, including flowers and vegetables.

Everyone is excited about the renovations, and Brodeur said it shows just how important a senior center is to any community.

“It’s important for adults to have a place to go,” she said. “They are social and active and like to be with their peers. Kids always like to have a place to hang out and do the things they enjoy – senior citizens are no different.”

For more information on the Senior Center, visit www.newprov.org/SeniorsHome.cfm