There seldom are things more serious than bingo. At least, that's what I learned after calling a few games at the Leland Resource Center on Thursday afternoon.
You could hear a pin drop, even as I cracked a great joke about "B12" also being my favorite vitamin.
But the place had been plenty noisy since around 9:30 when the doors opened. Local seniors came in to play cards, chew the fat and chew lunch. The bingo started at noon, as it does every Thursday at the fun space in south Baldwin Borough—right after mealtime.
Thursday, as it turns out, is typically the Leland Resource Center's busiest day, and around 45 people showed up to take advantage of services offered there by LifeSpan—a Homestead Borough-based organization that provides, as stated on its website, "life transition management through education, support and advocacy that identifies options, fosters self-respect and is based on community and individual priorities."
It's a mouthful, but so is lunch, which, by the way, is free of charge at the Leland Center, one of 15 LifeSpan locations in southern Allegheny County. The Baldwin location sits next to Leland Park along Wolfe Drive.
LifeSpan suggests donation amounts for services such as lunch—Thursday was rigatoni casserole with bread, salad and an orange for $1.50—but no one will be turned away, staffer Dorothy Bellowicz told me.
"If they have it (money), they have it," Bellowicz said regarding prices for all services.
And lunch is certainly not the only thing that LifeSpan provides at the Leland Center.
"We try to keep (seniors) informed of what's going on nationally, statewide, locally," Bellowicz said. "We have different hospitals come in here and tell them what they can get as a senior citizen—what's available for them, what's offered in the community itself.
"And we try to keep them informed in regard to fraud. Right now, I understand they're hitting seniors in regard to their grandchildren in college—pretending to call Grandma for money."
Bellowicz said that LifeSpan is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and other state government sources. The funding goes toward things like staffing, food, transportation and services, such as a senior companionship program and life enrichment classes. Click here for a full list of services.
But should one have no desire for specific activities, the Leland Center can simply be a welcoming place for seniors—a place to eat, be merry and escape the summer heat.
Ron Udovich, of Baldwin Borough, for example, said that he comes to the Leland Center routinely just to be with the friends whom he's met there.
"The people are terrific," Udovich said. "Of course, we're all in the same boat—mostly widows and widowers. It's an uplift."
Call 412-464-1300 to hear how you could keep places like the Leland Resource Center open. The Leland Center itself can be reached at 412-655-1779.
The Leland Resource Center is open from Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lunch is served at 11:30 every day, and depending on the day, activities like exercise classes, bingo and even casino trips are available.
Email email@example.com for a full schedule, but before you volunteer to call bingo games, you'd better know what you're getting into.
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