With new leadership for the first time in a generation, the Winter Springs Senior Center continues to grow and give local seniors an inviting place to gather and engage
Following a legend is never easy. Just ask Julie Trujillo, who recently completed her first year as manager of the Winter Springs Senior Center. Julie’s predecessor, Susie Coffman, ran the Senior Center for 24 years, and Susie would be proud to know that the city’s destination for active adults is more active than ever.
With more than 1,800 members (and growing), the Winter Springs Senior Center is a beehive of activity, offering classes designed to stimulate the body, mind, and spirit.
“When I got here, we started a painting class, which has just exploded,” Julie says. But even before Julie broke out the paint brushes and easels, she made sure to pay tribute to Susie’s legacy of leadership by dedicating the Senior Center’s great room to its longtime heart and soul.
“Susie had a wonderful retirement ceremony, which she richly deserved after 24 years,” says Julie. “She had a tremendous impact on this place. Dedicating the great room was just a simple thing we could do for her.”
As Julie settles into her own tenure at the helm of the Senior Center, she reflects on the arc of her career that led her to a place so close to her heart.
“I have a lot of empathy for the older generation,” says Julie, who is 38. “It started when my parents built a house next door to my grandmother in upstate New York. I became extremely close to her. She was like my escape from the rest of the world. She taught me a lot about life and getting along with people.”
Later, as Julie spent 14 years as a customer service specialist at a bank, she developed a knack for helping area seniors navigate the rapidly changing banking industry.
“I grew fond of working with the elderly, especially with online banking,” Julie says.
Just as she began to feel the pull away from the banking business and toward a more service-oriented profession, Julie discovered the opening at the Senior Center.
“I said, ‘That’s it!’ This is the job I was meant to have,” says Julie.
One year later, Julie is infusing her own energy into the many activities at the Senior Center, and she’s introducing a new friend to the many men and women who think of the Center as a home away from home. The Senior Center is less than five minutes away from the school Julie’s daughter attends.
“When I can, I bring my daughter Isabella over here to spend time with the seniors,” says Julie. “She is getting to know some of the members here, and they have so much wisdom to offer, just like my grandmother did for me.”
In addition to the new painting class, pool therapy classes are a popular draw at the Senior Center because they allow seniors to exercise in an environment that is safe and beneficial. And, of course, Bingo games on Wednesdays and Fridays keep the Senior Center packed.
“Oh, yes, Bingo really pulls them in,” Julie says. The game is a win-win for the Center and its members. Bingo serves as a fundraiser for the Center’s Senior Association, a nonprofit municipal services organization that is in charge of Center activities.
“The City of Winter Springs provides all of the facilities and staff at the Center,” explains Bob Osborne, the current association treasurer and former vice president, “and we are responsible for all of the activities, except for the pool, which is run by the center.”
Bob is very pleased with the smooth transition that has been made under Julie’s guidance.
“Membership is up, and Julie and her staff have been wonderful to the members,” Bob says. “They are always smiling and willing to help.”
“When prospective members come in, it is like the first day of school for some of them – they are so nervous,” says Julie. “We want them to know that this is a safe place to get together and make friends. While they are here, I want them to feel loved and worthy.”
In addition to the new Learn to Paint class, the center also offers Cardio Fit, pilates, line dancing, yoga, tai chi, Sweating with Helen, Zumba Gold, Bingo, computer classes, a game room, bridge, and more. Best of all, the annual membership rates are extremely affordable.
For more information about the Winter Springs Senior Center, call 407-327-6554
The Winter Springs Senior Center is a recreation center for seniors ages 55 and up.
A variety of programs offer unique opportunities for seniors to connect with each other.
In addition to classes, activities, and social functions, there is an indoor therapy pool that is very popular. Classes are taught by volunteer water fitness instructors and vary in intensity and difficulty. Open Swim is available for members who prefer a self-guided approach to water therapy. It is available Monday through Friday, 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
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