KETTERING — A $1 million donation from Charles Lathrem’s descendants is expected to fund several upgrades to the Kettering senior center named for the late community activist.
The family of Doug Lathrem made the donation to “help spruce up” the 32-year-old center that honors his father, said Mary Beth O’Dell, Kettering’s parks, recreation and cultural arts director.
While plans are still in the works, they will likely include building an outdoor garden area just south of the center and new shelters, as well as buying new vans and refurbishing the inside of the facility, Kettering records show.
“With these dollars, we’re going to be able to do some significant improvements,” O’Dell said, noting the work will also include new pickleball courts at Kennedy Park.
The financial boost allows the center to accommodate “a new generation of seniors,” said Drew Corbett, Kettering recreation manager.
The 16,464 square foot site is one of the larger senior centers in Ohio, according to seniorcenter.us. Catering to adults ages 55 and up, its attendance and enrollment in 2019 totaled 20,200, city records show.
“The senior population, their behaviors change just like any other customer,” O’Dell said. “So our goal is meet what their needs are regardless of their age. Baby boomers ... have way different desires for recreation then the silent generation” before them.
“But then there’s some that are in the 80s and 90s that act like they’re in their 60s,” she added. “So the reality is that we want to continue to be a relevant facility, to continue to focus on active adults regardless of your age” and “we want to meet people where they are for the activities that are most important to them.”
Kettering’s estimated 57,800 residents include nearly as many people 65 or older (18.4%) as it does under 18 (21.7%), according to recent U.S. Census figures.
Nationally, one of every five people in the United States is expected to be 65 or older by 2030, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.
The census bureau projects by 2034 — for the first time — the U.S. population will have more people age 65 or older than those under 18, AARP records show.
Many of Kettering’s planned improvements are expected to start and be done this year.
O’Dell said “some of it may bleed into 2023. I think the outdoor garden area will probably ... Our goal is to get a lot of the work started as soon as we can.”
Proposed improvements and estimated costs to be paid for from a $1 million donation to the city of Kettering include:
•Three season shelters, $400,000
•Outdoor activity area, $150,000
•Transportation vans, $80,000
•Wall painting/refinishing, $80,000
•Lighting/electrical improvements, $76,000
•Tables, chairs, carts, trash cans, $75,000
•Pickleball courts (Kennedy Park), $50,000
•Billiard room upgrades, $25,000
SOURCE: City of Kettering
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