2012 was a year of celebration for supporters of the Patrick Henry Hays Senior Citizens Center in North Little Rock.
That is the theme of the 2012 annual report that was presented to the North Little Rock City Council on March 25.
On Feb. 3 of this year, the center celebrated its 10th anniversary.
“Our original opening date of Feb. 3, 2003, was an interesting day for us all,” states the report. “We had no idea how the Hays Center would be accepted as it has been and no idea how many folks we would attract as members. Our opening day quickly discarded as we spent most of our first few months signing up new members.”
The opening event on the Sunday afternoon in 2003 drew more than 1,500 visitors, which was more than the building could accommodate at the time.
“We quickly had over 1,000 members, signing up over 500 the first day,” according to the report.
The founding fathers of the Hays Center reported when they saw the initial positive reaction, it brought back memories of the famous 1989 movie The Field of Dreams one of the more memorable lines from it which reads, “If you build it, they will come.”
“Well we built it and they came and came and are still coming,” adds the report. “Even today with more than 18,000 folks having joined us we still have new members enrolled daily.”
On a daily basis, Hays Center staff and management deal with issues that benefit its programs and members.
“It remains our belief that the Hays Center is the place where seniors can come and enjoy program and equipment, or simply visit and not have to deal with the world outside. Here we can’t tell someone’s social or political standing. Folks simply all look alike in a pool aerobics class or a line dance class.
While the Hays Center has introduced new classes and programs each year, there are some programs that remained favored each year.
“Our members have come to expect certain things from us,” states the report. “These expectations are that we keep those standard programs and that we always come up with the new ‘unexpected’ program, event or class that keeps our Hays Center new and fresh.”
During the first 10 years the center grew from nothing to one of the most viable, fun and personally rewarding programs in the country, according to the report.
“In 2012, we had 924 new members join the Hays Center,” states the report. “The addition of these new members brought our membership to 18,043.”