We were thrilled to be invited down to the Woodbury Senior Center in order to meet one of their dedicated members, Connie Baldwin. Connie has been a regular at the Center since 2006 and she kindly spoke to us about her very active lifestyle and how the Center has been instrumental in helping her stay happy and healthy in her “golden years.”
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am originally from Germany and I have been living in the United States for 62 years. I came here in 1957 when I was 18 years old. I had two aunts that lived in New York, in the Catskills area, and one of them actually owned a summer resort. During my first summer in the U.S., I worked as a waitress at this resort and thats how I picked up English. I didn’t know much of the language when I first arrived, but I was able to learn a lot that summer. After working as a waitress, I moved to Long Island and I became an au pair for a little 6-year-old boy. I did that for a little over two years and then I met my husband.
We moved to Upstate New York and then to the Catskills for 10 years. We then moved to Torrington, Connecticut. To me, Torrington felt like such a big city because I was used to living in smaller communities. But, I loved living in Torrington and it felt like home to me. The community there was wonderful and there was so much going on.
What did you do for a career?
Well, I primarily focused on running the household. My husband was a Merchant Marine and he was on the go all the time. He was always sailing to different ports and different countries. His voyages would last anywhere from 2 to 3 months, so he would be away from home quite often. So, I had to take control of the household and raise our children while he was working. This taught me independence and how to not only take care of myself, but also my family.
Also, I did some volunteering when I lived in Torrington. I used to volunteer at the thrift shops in New Hartford, specifically the New Hartford Valley Thrift Shop. This little shop was amazing in that it gave all of its profits back to the community. I was a regular volunteer there and eventually became one of its co-vice presidents. I volunteered at this thrift shop for about 15 years.
How did you get involved with the Woodbury Senior Center?
I have the highest praise and admiration for the Woodbury Senior Center. After my husband passed, I moved from Torrington to Woodbury in order to be closer to my daughter. At the time, I was looking for something to keep me busy with activities, so I visited the Senior Center to see what they had to offer. From the beginning, I just knew this was a wonderful place. They have so much going on and so many activities to enjoy. Everyday, there are so many classes, programs, and special events happening at the Center. I actually don’t have the time to attend everything that is going on. Also, the staff is just the greatest and they work so hard to keep us active and engaged. They keep us so well informed about everything, including what is happening in our own community. My fellow members are terrific as well. They were very kind and welcoming to me when I first started coming to the Center. Now, they have become like a second family to me.
The Senior Center has been my salvation. It has kept me active, socially engaged – and healthy! I am highly appreciative of everything they do and I am grateful that I have the Center in my life. The Senior Center has given me a new lease on life (I’m almost 80 years old!). I don’t know what I would do without it.
What activities or programs are you involved with at the Center?
I attend the strength training class every Tuesday and Thursday. I love to play Mahjongg, Backgammon, Pinochle, and Canasta. The Center also offers several specialty classes, such as basket weaving and beading, as well as lectures on art, culture, history, and religion. When I can, I like to attend these special lectures and classes. Also, the Center offers some fabulous trips throughout the year. They are mostly educational and they take us to local museums, theaters, galleries, and concerts. It just amazes me that the Senior Center offers all of these wonderful activities, events, and trips.
“The Center is like a beehive where we can go to socialize and stay active physically and mentally. It has been my salvation and I don’t know what I would do without it.”
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Well, I am also an active member at my church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I am on the altar guild, the welcoming committee, and the hospitality committee. So, my church keeps me fairly busy. Also, I love to bake! My favorite thing to bake is pie (I actually made two apple pies the other day!), but I also like to bake bread and coffee cake.
I also take care of my daughter’s dog, Odie. I have him every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I love spending time with him and taking him for walks. He is very comforting and a wonderful companion.
How do you like living in Woodbury?
I absolutely love it! I have been living in Woodbury for 12 years and I can’t think of a better place to spend my “golden years.” It is just a beautiful town and it is very peaceful and serene. Plus, everything is in walking distance from my apartment. I can easily walk to the grocery store, post office, library, and the Senior Center. Everything is very accessible and convenient. Plus, the community here is very warm and wonderful.
Do you have any advice for other seniors to “age well?”
I would say to go out and mingle. Do as much as you can and be social. Don’t be afraid to try something new and take a chance. You never know what life will bring and it will always surprise you.
Has Connie inspired you? Get involved with your local senior center today. Check out our senior center pages for more information.
Also, check out the many interesting events at local centers on our Events Calendar.