The Pioneer Senior Center met for an organizational meeting on February 14, 1978, with a potluck dinner at Pender Community Hall. Thirty people from the Pender area and four from the Goldenrod Hills Community Action Program outlined plans for future meetings. At the third meeting officers were elected. They were: Lawrence Schademann - President, Ervin Janke - Vice-president and Lillian Hollman - Secretary/Treasurer.
The former Presbyterian Church then owned by Thurston County was chosen as a good location for the Senior Center. A local law firm was willing to buy the back lots and complete the required paper work, and the Senior Center purchased the front lot for $3,500. All interested community members gave what they could to support the Center. The Kiawanis held a fund-raiser soup supper for the Center. The Pender State Bank gave a substantial monetary donation. Christiansen Construction donated a quarter of beef, which was auctioned off by the Center. Also auctioned were a turkey and a quilt. Many additional local businesses made monetary donations and gifts. Memorials came from the community as well as cash gifts. Membership cards to the Senior Center were sold for $1 each. County assessor, Lyle Porter was a great help by accompanying the Senior Center Board to the Northeast Nebraska Area Agency on Aging in Norfolk to get our first of many grants to improve the building and to obtain a tax exemption for our building. Over the years the building underwent many major improvements including: insulation, new furnaces and air conditioners, new carpet, new cabinets and kitchen appliances. Shelves were installed and the entry door was changed from the northwest corner of the building to the present door on the northeast. The building was also rewired, a public address system was installed, a ramp for the handicapped was added on the east side, a basement door on the west was closed and vinyl siding was installed. Ceiling fans were added, along with new lighting and kitchen equipment. A large sign was purchased and placed on the front of the building. A pool table, tables and chairs have been added and updated as needed. The majority of all this work was done with volunteer help.
Thanks must be given to the Northeast Nebraska Area Agency on Aging for providing grants and guidance. While we occasionally complain about the many reports we must complete, the regulations we are required to adhere to, the record keeping and the computer work, we realize we would not have come as far as we have without them. The Northeast Nebraska Area Agency on Aging has recognized our volunteer service and we have received awards for outstanding service in 1984, 1986 and 1988. They noted that Pioneer Senior Center was the only center receiving these awards that has no paid manager; we as volunteers do all the work.
We have kept scrapbooks containing photos of special occasions taken by members, and articles from The Pender Times. Our activities, history and membership are also preserved in our secretary’s book, our treasurer’s records and through memorial plaques of departed members.
Our current officers and board members are as follows: Joyce Novak-Board Chairman, Irene Mueller-Secretary, Elaine Moeller-Treasurer, Mae Westerhold, Marilyn Swanson, Art Cline, Edna Mae Frey and Wayne Meyer.
We welcome those 60 years of age, and over, to join us for socializing, card playing, bingo, exercising, games for non-card players. The Senior Center also organizes and offers health clinics for blood pressure, foot care, and nutrition lessons. We have organized tours in the Pender area and contribute to local activities. For a nominal fee our building is available to host community activities or private family events such as anniversaries, graduation parties and special holiday events.
The Senior Center’s goal is to keep older people active and independent.