Letting the light shine in

Culpeper Senior Center director Gladys Williams, left, hugs Mayor of Culpeper Mike Olinger as he presents her with a plaque declaring Nov. 10 Gladys Williams and Culpeper Senior Center Day in Culpeper. The senior center officially reopened Nov. 10, showing off its nearly $1 million renovation to officials and citizens of Culpeper.
Culpeper Senior Center director Gladys Williams, left, hugs Mayor of Culpeper Mike Olinger as he presents her with a plaque declaring Nov. 10 Gladys Williams and Culpeper Senior Center Day in Culpeper. The senior center officially reopened Nov. 10, showing off its nearly $1 million renovation to officials and citizens of Culpeper. Photo by Ian Chini

Bright lights, vibrant colors and the ever present smiling face of Gladys Williams will greet seniors to Culpeper’s newly renovated senior center.

Officially reopened on Nov. 10, the senior center welcomed more than 100 people to celebrate its renovation and newly expanded quarters.

Brian Duncan, director of Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services, called the day a culmination of three years of planning.

“An investment from this community has yielded this amazing result,” Duncan said, calling the renovation a key priority for the RRCS board. “It’s been critical for the seniors here. This place was crowded and inadequate before. The seniors and volunteers here recognized it, close to five years ago, that’s what started the energy around it.”

That energy emanated from senior center director Gladys Williams, who was at the forefront of the fundraising for the near $1 million project.

Williams and the senior center were the recipients of a proclamation by the Town of Culpeper, offered by Mayor Mike Olinger.

“She is an angel to Culpeper,” Olinger said of Williams. “People don’t realize what she does and what she does behind the scenes. It’s more than just seniors, she takes care of Culpeper.”

The seniors under her care will be taken care of now in a state-of-the-art, bright, clean facility. The senior center grew by more than 2,000 square feet, boasting a three-stall bathroom, a shower, a wall of computers, a roomy dining area named after key donors Joe and Linda Daniel, and large windows that add much needed light to the building.

“This is what we’ve worked on for so many years, to get something nice enough for the seniors that they can get into without having steps,” Williams said. “[This is huge]…to have a big enough space where we can do games and all kinds of programs.”

Williams, rarely at a loss for words, was surprised and filled with emotion by the mayor’s proclamation.

As usual, she was more prepared to talk about how the renovations have helped lift her seniors spirits.

“It has done wonders for them, because when they come in there’s nothing to bring them down,” Williams said.

Duncan thanked architect Bill Loving and Taft Construction for helping finish the project on time and under budget.

“If you did not see what it was before, it was in need of help,” Duncan said. “It needed a complete face lift.”

He too echoed the sentiments of everyone involved, that Williams was a driving force behind the project.

“From the very beginning, we recognized that if we were going to be successful in getting this done, Gladys needed to play a lead role,” Duncan said.

For Sandy Boone, President/CEO Culpeper Chamber of Commerce, the renovations help promote the commitment to Culpeper’s seniors.

“I think this community is absolutely blessed to have a senior center,” Boone said. “As we all age, you want to be able to keep your residents local. Anytime a business is looking to relocate to Culpeper, they are looking at lots of things. They look for a senior center, child care and all those things. To have a center like this and a person as passionate as Gladys, we are one blessed community.”

Seniors sat in the large dining area last Thursday, enjoying snacks while sharing stories with friends and enjoying their new environs.

“This is a beautiful place and well-deserved,” senior center regular Howard Mills said. “This is another thing about Culpeper helping Culpeper. “These people are very thankful to have such a person as Gladys working for them. She’s a caregiver to all of these old people, including me.”

About Jeff Say 276 Articles
Jeff Say is the editor for the Culpeper Times. He can be reached at jsay@culpepertimes.com