After 18 years of existence the Pecos Senior Center has been through a lot of changes, but it's still running strong in Ahwatukee Foothills.

"When I started we didn't have any services for seniors," said Virginia Morten, who helped get the senior center started. "I was taking care of my dad and working and I couldn't get any services on this side of the mountain. That's why I went after it as soon as I was able, to try and get services over here for all the seniors. It took a while but we got something started."

It began just as a small meeting three times a week at Mountain View Lutheran Church. It went from there to a back room in the Ahwatukee Recreation Center for a short time and finally to a location on Elliot Road.

When the new Pecos Community Center was built four years ago the senior center was moved there.

"It's been a struggle trying to keep a place," Morten said. Various budget cuts have caused the moves but the group is now happy to call Pecos Community Center home.

"We used to have a free-standing senior center that was just ours and we could leave things out but this is a multipurpose room and the whole community uses it, not just us," said Annette Propati. "At least we have a place to come and enjoy ourselves. We've made a lot of good friends here. I don't know what we'd do without this center. For some people it's the only hot meal they get all day long."

Today the senior center welcomes more than 40 seniors daily and over 80 on bingo days. They host different classes and activities including Bunco, dominoes, a discussion group, Spanish classes, computer classes, yoga and Tai Chi. They also take trips to area theaters and the zoo and have buses for those who cannot drive themselves.

"Our supervisor now is so busy," Propati said. "She's always got more things going on. There's no reason not to keep busy."

The senior center has become a staple for many seniors in the community. They come not only for the activities but the people.

"I like the companionship," said Richard Coplan, who runs the discussion group and also teaches a Spanish class. "It also gives me a chance to contribute to other people. I have fun here."

The center's supervisor, Terri Roza, says it's her job to make sure people are having fun.

"This is a beautiful facility," she said. "They have a lot more that they can choose from here. Some are taking computer classes. We have a walking club that walks around the gym every day. They have access to the gym so if the guys wanted to go down there and play basketball they could. There's a game room. I also have people who use the exercise club.

"It's a perfect set-up for people here with the exercise capability and classroom capability."

In celebration of its 18-year anniversary the senior center is joining the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce.

Roza hopes it will help more seniors learn about the facility and give them a chance to get out and enjoy it.

"Right now it's the best kept secret in Ahwatukee," Roza said. "That's why we're joining the chamber. I want new people coming into the community to see that we're here."

To join the senior center there is a simple application, which includes emergency contacts and basic health information and a small annual fee.

The center serves lunch Monday through Friday at 11:45 a.m. For more information, call (602) 534-5366 or stop by the Ahwatukee center at 17010 S. 48th St.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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