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Ela 55 Plus

The “cat is out of the bag” about the incredible range of activities and services offered to Ela Township residents, age 55 and older. Township residents are literally flocking to the Ela 55 Plus program center at 380 Surryse Rd., Lake Zurich to take part.

“We have approximately 3,500 members and a very busy full-time staff of two and part-time staff of five,” said Susan Dillon, director of adult and senior services. “The Ela 55 Plus program has grown exponentially over the last two years, mainly through word-of-mouth.”

The Ela 55 Plus program began 15 years ago and operating out of one room at the Foglia YMCA for most of the first 11 years. Then, four years ago, they took over the old post office building and growth took off as they finally had room to offer many more diverse programs, groups that regularly meet to play cards and other games and services, according to Dillon.

The comprehensive program offers classes, card/game playing groups that meet weekly are always looking for new players and special events six days a week (Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., as well as exercise classes on Saturdays and two evenings a week and special events and trips as scheduled).

They offer everything from yoga to bingo, art classes, day trips, overnight trips, bowling outings, restaurant outings, luncheon lectures and much more.

“Our mission is to engage seniors in our community using recreational, social and supportive activities and services that might otherwise be out of their realm. We want to keep our seniors active and engaged in life,” Dillon explained. “For instance, we recently took groups to Tuscany in Italy and on a nine-day bus tour to San Antonio, Texas. In the near future, further trips are planned to Panama, down the Mississippi River and to Yellowstone and other national parks in the west.”

“Many of our seniors no longer want to navigate the airport or a foreign country alone and they like going with familiar faces. So, our trips are very popular,” Dillon said.

Special events like the annual holiday dinner dance, the Veteran’s Day lunch and the Oktoberfest and Halloween celebrations also draw crowds.

“We like giving our seniors a reason to come out of their houses; see what the world has to offer; and socialize,” she said. “We have something for everyone and some programs have a fee while others are free.”

Ela 55 Plus also provides a plethora of services for those 55 and older. A senior resource specialist is available to help with health insurance, pharmaceutical and state benefits issues. A social worker is available through the Township office to help with clinical issues like depression. The Township office at 1155 E. Route 22, Lake Zurich also has a medical equipment lending closet, while the St. Vincent DePaul Society at 135 S. Buesching Rd., Lake Zurich offers a food pantry.

Flu and pneumonia shots are offered at the Ela 55 Plus center, as are AARP and Illinois Secretary of State driving classes. Finally, Ela 55 Plus has a home visitor program that sends people out for social visits with the home-bound.

For more information, call (847) 438-9160.

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