North Philly’s brand new Older Adult Center includes line dancing, billiards and ancestry workshops

Billy Penn is highlighting some of Philadelphia’s recreation centers, ranging from Southwest to the Northeast. We’re including spaces that were recently renovated and others that have long lists of needs. We’ve already featured Kingsessing, Happy Hollow, Vare and Athletic Rec Center.

Older North Philadelphians started asking for their own recreation center decades ago.

Jacqueline Maldonado, the director of the Martin Luther King Older Adult Center, said she estimates the seniors started lobbying for their own public recreational space long before John Street first became mayor in 2000 — when he was still the neighborhood councilman.

That’s why it was such a triumph for so many North Philadelphians when the Martin Luther King Recreation Center expanded in August. Before that, children, adults and the elderly shared one facility on Cecil B. Moore Avenue and 22nd Street.

Now, older adults have their own space; the MLK Older Adult Center opened across the street from the original facility on Aug. 28 specifically to serve people ages 55 and older.

“It was discussed for many years, and they finally started construction about a year ago,” Maldonado said. “They’ve been waiting years for this center to open.”

Location: 2100 W. Cecil B. Moore Ave.

Neighborhood: North Central

When it was built: 2017

Size: 10,000 square feet

How many people it serves: 100 per day

Features include: billiards room, computer room, fitness classes, arts and crafts, full-service cafeteria with free lunch every day

Number of employees and volunteers: six staff members, two trainees and 80 volunteers

Head of the center: Jacqueline Maldonado

North Philadelphia’s older adults started lobbying for their own recreation center nearly 30 years ago. Ground was officially broken on the facility in June 2016, and the $4.3 million center opened in August.

Even after the center was built, the brand new facility sat vacant for months before it was actually opened to the public. There was…

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