KINGMAN - Debera Daugherty is hoping some of the "Luck of the Irish" rubs off on the Kathryn Heidenreich Adult Center this upcoming St. Patrick's Day.
Daugherty, executive director for 11 years, has arranged the center's first big offsite fundraiser that day to bring in money to hire more staff and expand the activities offered to the public. The center, located at 1776 Airway Ave., attracts about 100 participants a day.
"We're in a transition stage between serving senior citizens and the Baby Boomers," said Daugherty. "So we're trying to expand our day and evening activities to provide more interesting programs. This is a great place for people to visit, relax, enjoy themselves and learn something new. We want to make it even better."
The nonprofit center receives no direct state or federal funding, instead relying on gifts, donations, small on-site fundraisers, long-term investments and the $1 fee charged each person per event. Two employees - one full-time and one part-time - work at the facility, which is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
A place to go
Rose Wolfe, 75, recently sat at a long table with other members of Snugs and Hugs, a group that crochets scarves, baby clothes and blankets for local charity organizations.
Wolfe said her husband died eight years ago after they had been married 20 years, one month and 12 days.
"I was going through a period where nothing mattered," said Wolfe, who joined five years ago. "I've always been a fighter, but I had been hibernating for six months. I knew I had to snap out of it or just give up. I came in and saw what the women were doing and I was hooked."
Wolfe said she attends the group every Tuesday afternoon and has made many good friends. She feels like she belongs at the center, said Wolfe, and it has given her a reason to live and is the best therapy she's found.
On another afternoon, Marvel Chavez, 78, crooned "Today I Started Loving You Again" as couples danced and a backup band of guitars, drums and a fiddle accompanied her. Chavez also enjoys hearing her husband, Frank Chavez, play the guitar, and dancing with her 85-year-old friend, Arthur Bailie.
"The center is a good thing because it gets a lot of people out who don't have a chance to have fun," said Chavez, who has been visiting each Thursday's jam session for about 15 years. "I like to make people laugh if I can, so I sing to the men and make their faces turn red."
Bailie danced with Chavez, then moved on to a different partner with each song. Bailie, also a 15-year participant in the center's activities, attends with his daughter, Janae Bailie, who drives and keeps a watchful eye on her father. He also participates in karaoke and bunco.
"I come for the dancing and the ladies," said Bailie, who has been widowed twice. "It was hard for me to get out there on the floor at first, and I don't consider myself a good dancer. But now I have fun. "
In the beginning
Daugherty said the center began in a borrowed barracks building on Gates Avenue in 1968 that had previously been deserted.
Kathryn Heidenreich, a Kingman resident who was retired from the Army, devoted much of her time to fixing up the building so she and her friends could meet.
But in 1972, the building was sold and a committee was formed to find a new site, said Daugherty. Mohave County rented the land where the center now sits for $1 a year and contributed $2,000 to construction costs, while the city of Kingman matched the amount.
More donations came in, said Daugherty, and in December 1972, the Kingman Senior Center opened with the building completely funded.
Heidenreich was named its first director. The facility was re-named in her honor in 1979 because of the work Heidenreich did to make it a reality.
Daugherty said the upcoming fundraiser would add even more to the center's value to the community.
She would like to see expanded social events, educational forums, exercise opportunities and counseling opportunities. She'd also be thrilled to see the building expanded from its current 11,720 square feet.
"I think people enjoy getting out and doing things here," said Daugherty of the fundraiser and its importance. "There are minimal opportunities to do this in a small city.
"Also, people in Kingman are very giving and supportive of events that give back to the community. I'm very excited about the possibilities for us here."