Drapes pacify Oak Bluffs Senior Center
The once bare and bleak room in the Oak Bluffs Senior Center, which sparked a dispute this fall that police were called to referee, is now a source of delight and enjoyment for the center's members. Glenna Barkan, a board member of Oak Bluffs Council on Aging, designed and hand-stitched 22 individual drapes, which were hung last week on the room's 11 windows.
Council on Aging director Roger Wey was unavailable for comment due to a family emergency, but Senior Center staff members said many groups are now happily utilizing the room.
In October, Mr. Wey and Bob Iadicicco, moderator of the Friday Conversations Group at the Senior Center, had an argument over which room to use for the gathering. Earlier this summer a new wing was added to the Senior Center that included a large room with the purpose of holding various functions, including exercise class and the Conversation Group, Mr. Wey said at the time.
With help from friends, Glenna Barkan hand stitched 22 patchwork-edged drapes for the newly constructed room at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center. Photo by Susan Safford
Mr. Iadicicco complained that the acoustics in that room were poor and said the group members had a hard time hearing one another. He insisted they continue to meet in the old room, where they had held the Conversations Group for over 20 years. Mr. Wey disagreed, saying the old room should be used for informal gatherings and a coffee hour.
The quarrel became elevated to the point that Mr. Wey called the police to force the Conversations Group to switch rooms. With the officer present, Mr. Wey agreed to let the group finish in the old room that day, but asked them to move to the new room the following week.
Mr. Wey said at the time that they had planned to hang drapes and other sound-proofing additions in order to improve the acoustics, but the project had not yet been completed.
An amicable resolution
Ms. Barkan, who also teaches a quilting class at the Senior Center, said Mr. Wey asked her to create drapes for the room this summer, and she agreed. She enlisted a group of helpers who met regularly at the Senior Center and got started on the project this fall. They worked hard at designing and stitching the drapes, although Ms. Barkan said some of her help "left for Florida, and it was a couple of us that ended up finishing them."
The drapes are made from muslin - a finely woven cotton - and have a colorful palette of hand-stitched patchwork squares along the bottom. Ms. Barkan said it took the small group about five weeks to complete all 22 drapes. They were hung on the room's windows last week.
An avid quilter who celebrated her 80th birthday this summer, Ms. Barkan has visited the Island since 1979 and bought a home in Oak Bluffs in 1993. She has been with the Council on Aging for ten years. She said the addition of the blue and yellow hued drapes allow light to flow into the room, and have added cheer to the once institutional feel of the space.
The Friday Conversations Group met for the first time in the new room last Friday. Mr. Iadicicco said he is very pleased with the decorative additions, and eager to continue meeting there. "It really is a big improvement and we're very happy," he said, adding that the sound in the room has greatly improved.
In addition to the Friday Conversations Group, three exercise classes, the bridge group, and various speakers now use the space.
The room is currently playing host to a cheerfully adorned Christmas tree, and the Senior Center's holiday party will take place in the room on Dec. 20.
In addition to the drapes, Ms. Barkan donated various quilts that are hung on the walls. Another member donated two oil paintings, and brand-new tables and chairs are in use.
The old room is now a place for people to sit and have a cup of coffee and chat among themselves, Senior Center staff said. It also houses the center's computers and a television, and various luncheons are held there.