The Orion Center, located at 1335 Joslyn Road, opened its doors this spring and Lisa Sokol, community programs director, is thrilled with the amount of community support and interest the facility has already received.
Orion Township's Community Programs division is housed within the Orion Center. Community Programs is made up of two branches: the Senior Services division and Parks and Recreation division.
"We'll be servicing people from toddlers to seniors," Sokol said.
Anna Marie Stuben, Senior Services program supervisor, said she thinks that it is nice to have all ages at the center. Though, she did note that programs for seniors tend to be during the day, with parks and recreation classes shifting to the evening; but there is still some overlap.
"We might have a eucre club in the multipurpose room and karate class over in the yoga room. It's good to get everybody mingling together because they're all in the same community," said Stuben.
What can you do at the new community center? Here’s a look at some of the ways residents can enjoy the Orion Center:
Seniors can workout, play bingo and more
According to Sokol, the idea to build the Orion Center originally came from the need for a new senior center to meet the needs of the growing population.
"In the next 10 years the senior population is expected to grow 20 percent," Sokol said.
Prior to opening up the Orion Center, the senior center was located in downtown Lake Orion and according to Stuben was was one-third the size of the space they have now. Stuben said the new space allows them to spread their wings a bit more and offer additional programming because there are two floors and a lot more space at the new facility.
There is a lot to offer the senior community at the new Orion Center, said Stuben, including a variety of programs, eucre club, bingo, crafting workshops and a workout facility. Stuben said they take a lot of field trips as well. One of the new programs Senior Services will be organizing is a line dancing class, said Stuben.
One of the rooms within the Orion Center is designated as a workout room specifically for seniors 62-years-old and older, and for people 18-years-old and up with special needs. The room is restricted to the age groups because exercise equipment is being purchased with Community Block Grant funds, which details the age stipulations.
"It's a nice comfortable place seniors can go to workout," Stuben said.
Seniors can currently sign up for a membership for free. Membership fees will kick in once again in July, costing $10 for half a year.
Parks & recreation department programs on-site
Prior to opening the Orion Center, the Parks and Recreation Department was housed at Orion Township Hall and many of the programs the department put on were held in a small building at Friendship Park. The building didn't allow for a lot of indoor programming, which is something Jennifer Vezina, Parks and Recreation Program Supervisor, is excited to have more of.
"We're incredibly excited. It was a long wait, but worth it; it's a beautiful facility," Vezina said.
Many of the programs that took place outdoors will remain in the parks, but Vezina explained there is a lot of opportunity in the Orion Center for the Parks and Recreation Department to grow. The department targets all ages, from preschool-aged and up.
A variety of the new programs they are hosting on-site are health and wellness related, such as tai chi and zumba classes. Bringing art programs to the center is in the works as well. Vezina said that she has plenty of ideas for new programming, and now that they are all settled in hopes to start working on the details, though she didn't want to comment on them at this time. She did note that in the future she would like to see the backyard of the Orion Center used for programs as well.
For a list of Parks and Recreation Department programs click here.
Annual events now hosted at Orion Center
Prior to the opening of the Orion Center, many Orion Township events were hosted at other facilities, such as Canterbury Village. This year, the and the were able to move on-site to the Orion Center. Sokol was thrilled with the turnout to both events this year and said the facility worked perfectly for both.
"That allows us to invest money back into our programs," Sokol said.
Other events such as the and Cookies with Claus will now take place at the Orion Center and Sokol said they are even looking at starting an annual craft show in the fall.
Residents can rent out the facility
Sokol has already booked weddings for the Orion Center and is consistently getting new inquiries to rent out the banquet room nearly on a daily basis.
The large dining room on the main level can hold 250 people, said Sokol, and people can rent out the meeting rooms located on the bottom level as well.
"Meeting space for community groups is at a premium; they can use the library but there has always been a need for more spaces," Sokol said.
Open for community partnerships
Another highlight of the Orion Center is it allows for connections to be made with professionals within the community. For instance, since moving to the new facility Sokol said she has been approached by many local artists and organizations about instructing art classes - such as scrapbooking, painting and more - and hosting programs at the Orion Center.
Likewise, people with a wide range of other talents have approached Sokol as well, and she is currently looking at those partnerships.
A wellness center for seniors is in the works for the lower level of the Orion Center as well, which will be operated in conjunction with staff from a local health care facility.
Take classes at Orion Neighborhood Television
Orion Neighborhood Television (ONTV), formerly located at 698 Lapeer Rd., was the first tenant to move into the Orion Center. The move worked out great for ONTV, allowing more room for video production classes and more space in general for day-to-day operations.
For more information on ONTV programs and classes visit www.orionneighborhoodtelevision.org or call (248) 693-3377.
Want to take a tour?
The Orion Center is hosting its grand opening from 7-9 p.m. June 21. The ribbon cutting at the Orion Center will be at 7 p.m., followed by the ribbon cutting for ONTV at 7:15 p.m. Attendees will be able to tour the facility, get questions answered about the center and join in the festivities officially welcoming the Orion Center to the community.
For more information visit www.oriontownship.org.