Durham Center for Senior Life

WorldLegacy’s NC94 Leadership Team created an extensive garden and patio area for The Durham Center for Senior Life in Durham NC. Until this project, the residents had no outdoor access, and a large vacant outdoor area that was unusable. This extreme makeover project created a concrete walkway, planted 400 plants and trees, installed benches, tables and chairs, installed an irrigation system, and created raised flower beds. The team also made audio recordings of the visions of many of the elderly residents who came to the center. Budget: $45,000

Bill Anderson, Durham Center for Senior Life

To NC 94 LP: “Think you’re setting a new state record, from conception to completion, on this project. Your group has demonstrated that the impossible is only determined by our perceptions of what is possible. You’ve been pretty careful not to make too strong a point that you’ve arrived at this spot, due to an operation that seems to breed folks who accomplish Mission Impossible: … Quite impressive. And we’ve all been witnesses. Still, kind of hard not to suspect this particular group of WorldLegacy Leaders are a special breed, even for WorldLegacy. In a word, WOW!”

Senior Center Getting Garden


Aug 24, 2007
DURHAM — A Triangle area leadership development organization is stepping in to help improve the outdoors immediately adjacent to the Durham Center for Senior Life.

The WorldLegacy on Wednesday started grading for a garden and patio area, with the work set to be complete by the weekend and formal dedication ceremonies Sept. 10, said Bill Spritzer, one of the project leaders.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Spritzer, a consultant from Cary.

“I am absolutely ecstatic,” said Gail Souare, executive director of the Coordinating Council for Senior Citizens. “This is a great thing.”

Souare, who grew up in Vermont, holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a nationally ranked research center. She worked for a health care foundation in California before being named in March to lead the senior center, which had opened in May 2006.

The center, earlier under the direction of Nancy Love, was a subject of much bad publicity, with critics concerned about what they saw as lackluster programs and a reported average daily attendance of only about 25 to 30.

The 35,000-square-foot, $5.5 million structure was built at 406 Rigsbee Ave. on property given by the city, with Durham County providing construction financing and being generally responsible for social services.

But, the critics pointedly targeted the center’s incomplete kitchen and unfinished theater.

Souare said that a month ago she hired a development director whose marching orders will include raising funds for those two areas.

Souare, who pledged to expand services and bring more seniors into the center, said that attendance has soared to anywhere between 100 and 150 a day.

“Yeah, I feel pretty comfortable with that,” Souare said about the accuracy of those numbers.

“We have really taken off now,” Souare said. “It took a while for people to learn about us.”

Spritzer said that although the building is still new, the landscaping was incomplete.

“There’s a fenced area, a very nice gate fence, if you will, where it was meant to be a garden or a patio area for the seniors to kind of sit out there and relax and do what they want to do,” Spritzer said.

“What we’re doing is creating that garden for them. We took the initial architectural plans and have modified them according to the executive director and her staff,” Spreitzer said.

Spreitzer also said pots will be in place where the seniors can grow flowers and vegetables of their liking.
The WorldLegacy, located near Raleigh-Durham International Airport, provides a full curriculum of adult educational workshops, seminars and management programs.

Spreitzer said participants in the garden and patio project include people from as far away as Miami, New Hampshire and New York.

Spreitzer said that, as part of a leadership phase of the WorldLegacy program, team members have to create a heritage that will remain in place after they depart.

And so, as a condition, only 20 percent of their own money and time can be used on such a project, with the remaining materials and time being donated.

But, when asked the estimated cost, Spritzer said, “I would say this would be a sticker price of maybe $20,000 … $30,000 at least.”

Spreitzer said James Yeargan is contributing landscaping and two competing concrete companies, Chandler and Ready Mixed, are contributing their material as well.

“I love looking out for the young and the elderly,” said Daniel Brame, local operator for Chandler. “That’s what you should do anyway.”

Reprinted with Permission, The Herald-Sun, (Durham, NC)