What is the Bonner Center?
The Bonner Center serves several communities in the Portage Township community and has been providing transportation, fitness, socialization, lunch, and more to the seniors of the community for more than 40 years.
In 1979, the Bonner Center opened its doors and welcomed the Portage Township community. The Bonner Center is named after Eunice Bonner, the president of the Senior Citizens Club of Portage. Since the ‘70’s, The Bonner Center has received a face life as well as more additions such as daily activities, field trips, and nutritional lunches.
What does the Bonner Center offer?
The Bonner Center offers a place to socialize for those who live alone or sometimes feel lonely. The Bonner Center also offers daily fitness classes, dancing, Zumba, Tai Chi and Yoga. Seniors will also be able to walk the new trail after it is finished this spring. New additions to programing are Arts and Crafts Class and a Crochet/Knitting Club that makes items for those in need. This month, they are making slippers for Veterans.
"We also have the Bruce Creasy Memorial Community Garden," Wilkening said. "We have started a seedling program with the seniors. They grow the plants from seeds at home and bring them in to the center for planting. The garden produced over 700 lbs. of vegetables last year, and all the produce goes to the Portage Township Food Pantry."
Outside of exercising, the Bonner Center also offers regular activities for the members to participate in. The Bonner Center currently offers Bingo, Bunco, dances, Pinochle, scavenger hunts, and live entertainment with exciting new things to come!
“Thursday is always free BINGO! We always get a volunteer who provides prizes that are seniors need and use but may not be able to afford,” Director Robin Wilkening said.
Not only does the Bonner Center provide in-house activities, but before the pandemic, the Bonner Center even provided, and hope to soon provide again, field trips for the members.
“The members love to get out as a group and go out to eat, shop, supper clubs, and much more,” Wilkening said.
The Bonner Center has an upcoming Senior Prom planned for the summer of 2022 with a theme of summer nights and the plans are underway!
There are also clubs within the Bonner Center that are mutually supportive!
“We have a Ways of Means Committee that helps fund things at the center. For instance, they help fund major purchases like a copy machine, automatic door openers and our digital sign. We also have the Be Thankful Club and they help with general membership that volunteers for the seniors to help plan parties and projects ,” Wilkening said.
The Bonner Center provides socialization, planned activities, nutritional lunches, but what is mostly seen and not talked about enough is the family that it provides as well. The feeling hits almost instantly when walking through the doors. Seniors are chatting, cracking jokes, asking about loved ones, and genuinely enjoying themselves. For those who no longer have loved ones nearby, the Bonner Center and its members become a second home in a sense.
How to become a member
Senior Citizens from any area of 55 years and older are encouraged to become members of the Bonner Center. To become a member of the Bonner Center, simply walk in and someone will be happy to get you through the short process!
“There’s a short form for personal information, dietary restrictions, interests, limitations, etc.,” Wilkening said.
Passionate about what we do
The Bonner Center is currently feeding about 70-100 seniors a day and is growing astronomically with heavy involvement and support! Robin Wilkening, the Director of the Bonner Center, puts her passion behind every work day. Wilkening loves what she does and genuinely care about the members of the center.
“My favorite part about the Bonner Center is the seniors. They have become a part of my family and they make all the difference. I’ve never felt so close to a group of people other than my family and my church family,” Wilkening said teary eyed.
The passion is here and the plans are set into motion of what is next to come!
“They have no idea what big plans we have for the year,” Wilkening said.
If you’re looking to become a member or for more information about the Bonner Center, visit https://www.portagetrustee.org/ or call 219-762-3591/219-762-1522 .