by Judith Sullivan
My husband I moved to the Forest Hills neighborhood in Washington, DC in 2000. We were recent retirees and did not have a car for the first two years, so we chose the location for the convenience of living close to the metro, bus line, Giant, CVS, etc.
One day we learned there was another perk for retirees in the neighborhood. There was a notice in our building lobby about the UDC Gerontology Center at 4340 Connecticut Avenue. We walked down and discovered an interesting program for senior citizens. Here is a partial list of classes and seminars: Basic Home Repairs, Increasing Happiness in Life, Keep Hope Alive, Nutrition Center, Mind & Memory, Certified Idea Mapping Instruction, Tae Kwon Do, Yoga, Art & Writing, Beginning Bridge. Plus, an annual health fair was given in the UDC auditorium with many participating such as Howard University Dental School.
The UDC Academy for Lifetime Learning was coordinated by the Institute of Gerontology as a program for learning in retirement for persons 50 years of age and older. The Institute of Gerontology established the UDC Center in order to allow older Washingtonians an affordable educational experience in a relaxed environment. In addition, senior citizens were able to register for classes at the university campus. My husband attended every art class for years. Most of us who took advantage of this program were from Forest Hills or Chevy Chase, but it drew residents from many other areas of the city.
Another off-shoot was the Body Wise program and seniors participated in exercise swim classes in the UDC swimming pool. In 2008 the pool was closed for repairs and the program was moved to the Wilson Aquatic Center. Also, the Gerontology Center was moved out of 4340 Connecticut Avenue. The entire building was vacated and a major renovation was undertaken which took over a year to complete. The Wilson High School was moved into the building after the renovation due to major repairs to their high school. They left after a year and now it is a law school.
We were moved to a small office in the Intelsat Building which had very limited access and the entire program fell apart. It moved two more times and is now inactive.
It was a very successful program and served a large group of DC senior citizens. It was a viable part of the neighborhood and convenient. Many an enjoyable time was spent and friendships were made. It offered recreation, education, social activities and is sorely missed.