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Portage gets a new senior center

Ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the new Charles & Lynn Zhang Portage Community Senior Center
John McNeill
/
WMUK
The ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the new Charles & Lynn Zhang Portage Community Senior Center on Friday, May 20, 2022.

The $11.2 million Charles & Lynn Zhang Portage Community Senior Center opens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of a bigger than expected crowd.

A larger crowd than expected was on hand Friday, May 20 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the new $11.2 million dollar facility. The Charles & Lynn Zhang Portage Community Senior Center is named for its major contributor and is located on Center Street across from Portage Central High School. The building is five times the size of the previous senior center and offers new amenities that the old one did not, including indoor pickleball.

Portage Mayor Patricia Randall said that while the focus will be on seniors, it won’t be exclusively for them.

“It has a professional kitchen that we hope will be used for rentals for weddings, for family celebrations, for anything traditional, joyful, in the city of Portage. We truly don’t have a space like that.”

Mayor Randall said the old center will not be torn down. Instead, the building will house the Portage Parks and Recreation Department.

It was standing room only at the ribbon-cutting event at the new Portage Community Senior Center
John McNeill
/
WMUK
It was standing room only at the ribbon-cutting event at the new Portage Community Senior Center on Friday, May 20, 2022.

A fundraising campaign for the new facility raised about half of the $11.2 million from community donations, the rest came from the City of Portage and the State of Michigan, which chipped in $1.5 million. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was on hand for the celebration.

“We all know the commercial where they say, 'this is not your father’s Oldsmobile.' Well, this is not your grandma's senior center, all right? This senior center’s work is focused on three core values, engagement, empowerment, and enrichment.”

The investment in the Portage Community Senior Center comes at a time when the elderly population is growing at a faster rate than school aged children, due to improved healthcare and a declining birth rate.

John McNeil covers local local government for WMUK. He has over 5 decades of broadcasting experience and over 40 years as a Journalist in Kalamazoo.