Longtime volunteer Midge Nasiatka brings her talents to center's quilting room

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Midge Nasiatka and Margie McCormick are common sights in the Gresham Senior Center sewing room. Everyone comes to the Gresham Senior Center for different reasons, and by the end of their visit they always feel better and leave with a huge smile on their face.

That's held true for longtime visitor and member Midge Nasiatka, 75, who first learned about the center 11 years ago. Reading the newspaper and seeing a list of the activities offered, she knew the Senior Center would be a perfect fit.

"I saw they had a quilting room, and later I got shanghaied into teaching a quilting class," Nasiatka said.

Now she's a staple at the Senior Center, 600 N.E. Eighth St., helping run the sewing room and making quilts to sell and support the entire operation — though making money is a secondary goal of the group. The first is providing an outlet for local seniors.

"The people that you meet is my favorite part," Nasiatka said. "It can be tough having your best friend not show up because they are gone — but everyone still comes in and are happy. You see people crippled over, but with a big smile on their face."

The center allows local seniors to remain involved and active in the community, offering education, recreation, health and social programs.

Classes offered at the center include dancing, painting, quilting, Tai Chi — which is the most popular — writing, pinochle, bridge, bingo and much more. The Senior Center also organizes trips to popular destinations, like casinos and the Portland Art Museum. Everything wouldn't be possible without support from the many volunteers, like Nasiatka, who keep the center running.

Some of the classes in high demand include scrapbooking and sewing. Help is also always appreciated in the office, where people can pick up random tasks.

"The experiences aren't all the same, and they don't last forever," Nasiatka said.

The quilts made by Nasiatka and the others are made mostly from donated fabric, and are sold to support the many people trying to get by on a fixed income.

They are made for customers, raffles and other events.

Alterations, at a reasonable price, is one of the newest services provided in the quilting room every Thursday.

Nasiatka keeps coming back because she knows she's making a difference. And she's not alone.

"People should come to get out of their houses," Nasiatka said. "There are so many people we talk to and tell to come. If you have a talent, come and teach something."

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