By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- The donated card tables and chairs at the Senior Activity Center of Sebastian are getting a lot of mileage since the center opened in September.
More than 40 active area seniors gather at the 2,000-square-foot building near Sebastian City Hall at different times during the week to engage their minds and enjoy time with friends while playing games such as pinochle and dominos.
Last week, Lenard Matyka of Micco was given the task of totaling his table's score after a long and challenging game of Mexican train.
"This used to be one of the things I was good at in high school," Mr. Matyka said with a chuckle.
In January this year, Mr. Matyka retired from driving school buses for Indian River County. Before the center opened in September, he jumped right into his old bus driver cleaning shoes and got to work.
"I cleaned every single window in this building. As a bus driver, it's your job to keep that bus clean and kids are always putting their hands on the windows," he said.
While there aren't children in abundance at the activities center, there are lots of fun and games and friendships.
"It's friendly, but it's competitive, too," said Lana Williams.
The center is self-governed and has been established as a nonprofit, said Ms. Williams, one of the center's directors.
The group of people who came over from the senior center operated by the Senior Resource Association elsewhere in Sebastian, have taken the lead in organizing the group and activities, she said.
Since the September opening, there have been more than 30 new people signed up to be a part of the center and its activities.
New activities include Thursday night bridge and twice a week tai chi on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ms. Williams said.
Mary Smithmyer recently joined the tai chi class, adding it to her list of activities, which already included Mahjongg and dominoes.
"It's very relaxing and it moves every muscle in your body," Ms. Smithmyer said.
"They have about 170 moves, but they say if you learn the first 17, you can do them all. We're up to 20 moves in class," she said.
While the classes do build on each other, new people are welcome to try it and can be successful because the instructor does review before each class, Ms. Smithmyer said.
The current list of Monday activities includes Scrabble from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mahjongg lessons from 11 a.m. to noon and Mahjongg games from 12:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
On Tuesdays, there is tai chi from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and four-deck canasta from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Wednesdays are busy at the center with pinochle, euchre and cribbage games from 12:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Bridge lessons and games are from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Seniors can get an early start on Thursdays with tai chi from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., then they could jump into a domino game, such as Mexican train, at noon. Domino games continue through 4:15 p.m.
Mahjongg players can enjoy their game time from 12:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Bridge games are held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Canasta, two-deck and seven- deck versions, are on Friday from noon to 4:15 p.m.
For more information about the activities center, visit www.sebastianseniors.org.