PORTAGE – People gathered Saturday for a family reunion of a different kind.
They came to celebrate not only the 40th anniversary of the Eunice Bonner Senior Center, but to also celebrate the “family” members and staff have become over the years.
“We are not only celebrating the building, but we are celebrating all the people who use it. We are celebrating those friendships,” U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky told the crowd gathered outside the center during opening ceremonies.
Visclosky said those friendships have been there as a source of comfort and a source of “hardy laughs.”
Members of Portage American Legion Post 260 raised a new U.S. Flag presented by Visclosky, followed by the center’s Choraleers singing “God Bless America.” The flag had flown over the U.S. Capitol building.
Portage Trustee Brendan Clancy addressed the crowd, saying the township is “fortunate and blessed” to have the center. He lauded his predecessors for their forethought and efforts to provide services to seniors in Portage Township.
Dorcus Hammond, granddaughter of Eunice Bonner, spoke of her grandmother’s accomplishments.
Bonner, said Hammond, was the first juvenile probation officer in Lake County, often giving shelter to young charges, helping them to get on their feet. She was also involved in WWII organizations and local and state agencies involved in assisting the aged. She was named Porter County Woman of the Year in 1977.
“Grandma was very stern, but very loving,” Hammond said, adding her grandmother loved to be involved in community service.
“This is one of grandmother’s heart projects and to see how its grown and everything you’ve accomplished really means a lot,” Hammond said.
“Today is a celebration of the Bonner building, the grounds, but I think what it really comes down to is all of you, all of the people who have come through the door at Bonner,” Janet Clem, center director, said.
Members, their families and the public had a chance to look through scrapbooks detailing the center’s history. They were also served lunch.
The Bonner Center, 5800 Lexington Ave., Portage, is open to Portage Township residents age 55 and older. Membership is an annual $10 donation. Non residents may also join for a cost of $20 per year.