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Newton County Senior Center celebrated half-century of service in ‘22
Senior Center2
County officials, builders and community members were among those helping to cut the ribbon on the new addition to the Newton County senior center on Turner Lake Road in December 2020. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — As this new year begins, the Newton County Senior Center looks forward to the future while reminiscing on its 50 years. Beginning in 1972, the Senior Center has served Newton County faithfully, and with only two directors in its history, it has been a steadfast constant for the community. With seniors comprising over a fourth of Newton County’s population, having a facility devoted to seniors is essential. 

Many seniors regard the Senior Center as a home away from home and a second family. It is a place where seniors flourish and thrive! There is a saying located in the lobby of the Senior Center that embraces all who enter, “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

In the early 1970s, Covington’s Mayor Dr. William L. Dobbs along with local attorney and State Sen. Don Ballard saw the need for a place where seniors could go during the week and enjoy gathering with others. Dobbs and Ballard both felt very strongly that the best individual to head this program was none other than Josephine B. Brown. They knew Brown would operate with the best interest of seniors at heart and help the Senior Center reach its full potential. 

Beginning in 1972, Brown canvassed the county and recruited her first members. From there, the Senior Center began, and with Brown’s hard work, it gained momentum full steam ahead. What started as a basic fellowship and food program soon turned into more as Brown noticed that seniors needed additional activities. She envisioned a family environment where seniors had opportunities to increase knowledge, exercise their talents, and try new things. 

There were many difficulties and uncertainties to navigate, but Brown persevered and conducted the Senior Center with creative strategies – sometimes pioneering original programs. As a result, the Newton County Senior Center has long been considered one of Georgia’s best. Recognized for its growth and different activities, it has earned numerous innovative program awards. 

Having the ability to think outside the box and try new things has afforded great success for the Senior Center. It serves as an exemplary center for other senior centers throughout Georgia.  All Northeast Georgia counties have modeled something from the Newton County Senior Center, and many counties around the state have as well.

After serving 45 years as executive director, Brown retired, and a seamless transition to Freda Reed occurred. Both Brown and Reed have won Director of the Year for Georgia by the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC). The ADRC covers all Georgia senior centers and provides staff training, workshops, and resources. Reed has continued in the footsteps of Brown by adding new programs such as the Drama Club and choir, devoting time to research, and pursuing grants to further enhance the quality of life for seniors. 

The Senior Center offers ceramics, arts and crafts, quilting, sewing, exercise, drama, dancing, computer, book club, dominoes, choir, travel, day-trips, nutrition classes, fellowship, grandparents club, workshops, holiday entertainment, and more. Home Delivery clients also receive meals. As one of the fastest growing and most vibrant senior centers, the Newton County Senior Center must meet the needs of the diverse population so all can enjoy and feel at home. The large number of activities makes Newton County stand out because most centers do not have the selection. The Drama Club and Voices of Wisdom Choir are very special programs not easily found elsewhere.

The Senior Center has evolved quite extensively, moving to numerous locations over the years due to the growing number of participants. Recently, the Senior Center located at Turner Lake was remodeled, expanded, and renamed the Josephine B. Brown Senior Center. However, this facility will be expanded for a second time to accommodate the ever-increasing number of members and is scheduled for completion by April 2023. 

The success of the past fifty years would not have been possible without the outstanding leadership of two exceptional directors, a caring and devoted staff, excellent volunteers, and numerous community and corporate sponsors. The entire staff and seniors of the Senior Center would like to thank everyone for their support. May the next fifty years contain even greater fun with more friends!

To be a part of the exciting events happening at the Senior Center and to make a positive difference in the lives of seniors, come volunteer! Donations are also appreciated and help fund extra programs and services. Visit us at the Josephine B. Brown Senior Center 6183 Turner Lake Road, Covington, GA 30014 or call 770-787-0038 to volunteer!