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Elfers Center reopens with a broader mission

By Carl Orth
Published: April 13, 2013
Evie Parks, the CARES Elfers Center director welcomes people in the first group to use the reopened facility April 4. Much prep work remains for the May 10 grand opening, Parks said.

The CARES Elfers Center has reopened and will offer a range of activities for seniors.For nearly eight years, the building had been closed. The historic structure housed a school for more than 50 years starting in 1914. Then it became a senior center for several decades. The crumbling building was deemed unsafe and closed in May 2005 until it could be stabilized and renovated.Now it is a beehive of activity once again, Director Evie Parks said.The building, at 4136 Barker Drive, is open, although much unpacking and prep work remains before the grand reopening festivities May 10.The word “senior” has been dropped from the name of CARES Elfers Center to reflect its broader mission.It includes the new New Port Richey Public Library Avery Branch, where 15 Gulf High students made quick work of stocking hundreds of books on the shelves.Elsewhere, volunteers marveled at their well-equipped new computer lab, including Wi-Fi for much of the building.Parks helped welcome members of a support group who held the first meeting Thursday in the refurbished center.The CARES travel department will continue to set up field trips for its 1,000 members.Historic photos from the building’s schoolhouse era will hang on the cafeteria walls, Parks said.Many features reflect the historic roots of the schoolhouse building, according to Brenda Martyniak, public relations coordinator for the nonprofit Community Aging and Retirement Services.