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Young at Heart

Local seniors travel the US one trip at a time

In 2019 Johnson County seniors have traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Niagara Falls, and Toronto. Travel is a great way to stay active and there are many low cost options. Submitted photo.

By Meg Dickens

The Johnson County Senior Center is an active community of local elderly that demonstrates what it means to be young at heart. The center currently has 1,294 members. These ladies and gentleman keep active through trips, exercise, activities, competitions, and classes. The center takes several big trips annually with smaller trips sprinkled throughout the year. In 2019 the seniors have been to Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Niagara Falls, and Toronto. They are currently en route to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and the Hoover Dam for their last major trip of the year.
This travel has more benefits than just enjoyment. According to a 2000 study from the American Psychosomatic Society, frequent vacations reduce mortality rates in the elderly. Similar studies show boosts to mental and emotional health. Retirement is the ideal time to travel. Baby Boomers planned to take 4 to 5 leisure trips during 2019 according to an AARP survey.
“My passion is to do what I can to meet the needs of our senior population,” said Johnson County Senior Center Director Kathy Motsinger. “I truly strive each day to make it fun and enjoyable because we do not know what tomorrow holds. I keep the seniors busy traveling.”
Many companies offer senior discounts. Most of these discounts are available at age 50 or 60. For example, AARP has discounts for car rentals, airline tickets, hotels, travel, attractions, and tours available for members. Motsinger partners with Diamond Tours to organize big center trips. Planning includes lodging, entertainment, meals, transport, etc. 2020 trips include Lancaster, the Dutch Country, Washington DC, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Motsinger is already planning a 2021 trip to Nova Scotia.
The seniors decide where they would like to go. Motsinger collects information, and a committee of seniors pick 2 to 3 larger trips for the year. This committee consists of approximately 8 members. Bus drivers Dennis Henson, Robert Wilson, and Terry Hodge report more local places that center members have shown interest in to Motsinger.
Trips are first come first serve. The only stipulation is that participants must be center members. Anyone interested in joining the Johnson County Senior Center should drop by the center at 128 College Street in Mountain City or call (423) 727-8883. Membership is free. Speak to Motsinger to sign up or volunteer. The Meals on Wheels program desperately needs volunteers.