Explore Asheville, NC’s Senior Citizens Programs
With everything from community centers to an institute dedicated to serving senior citizens’ lifelong learning needs, Asheville is the place to be for retirees. And with a growing roster of senior residential communities, newcomers are finding plenty of places to spend their golden years.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
One prime spot is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on the University of North Carolina-Asheville campus. The former North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement has been around since 1988 and is the go-to place for classes, seminars, concerts and much more.
“We have more than 280 classes, and almost all of our instructors are volunteers,” says Catherine Frank, executive director. “We have about 2,000 members. This isn’t a place where you just come and listen to someone talking in the front of the room, but a place where you can start a conversation with other people in the class.”
Members pay a $60 annual fee, which gives them access to 20-plus special interest groups, as well as the opportunity to attend classes and lectures. They also can take advantage of special events including programs with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and the Astronomy Club of Asheville. There’s also a weekly newsletter and many other benefits.
Quality of Life
“We are a top retirement destination for many reasons,” says Carolyn Ashworth, director of marketing at Deerfield, one of Asheville’s many retirement communities. “Asheville is beautiful, and has so much in the way of arts and cultural diversity, along with excellent health care. We have all the things you’d find in a bigger city, but have kept that small-town feel.”
Asheville Senior Programs
In addition to various privately owned arts and entertainment venues, the city itself offers many amenities to seniors, including programming through the Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department. There’s always something going on at Harvest House, which is in the Kenilworth neighborhood of east Asheville, and the downtown Senior Opportunity Center, says Lee Dansby, director of Harvest House.
“Both are year-round facilities,” Dansby says. “We have meal services at the Senior Opportunity Center, and it also offers several programs and activities. Harvest House is more of a community center, and we focus more on activities. Between the two, we are able to cover many different needs that our retirees have.”
Harvest House offers everything from balance and flex classes to dozens of card games, a book club, a wood shop, weaving area and pottery studio.
“We’re a very vibrant place,” Dansby says. “We have people that come in twice a month, and others who are here every day. We have a lot of people who come by when they are visiting from out of town and thinking about moving here, and also get a lot of visits from people who are looking to help a parent relocate to the area. We have one man who moved to Kenilworth just because he could walk here. People find a lot of ways to plug into this incredible town, and we are one way of helping them do that.”
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