Penfield Recreation
1985 Baird Road
Penfield, NY 14526

Office Hours
Monday - Friday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM




Recently, a lovely retiree who had just attended one of Daytime Education at Recreation’s classes stopped in to the Penfield Recreation office, with a tear-filled smile, and thanked them for saving her life. 

After recently retiring, she found herself at a loss for what to do next. Her days were empty as the day-to-day contact she had at work was gone, and her realization of that concept had become very apparent. On a whim, she stopped by the Penfield Recreation Department to see what she might find, and what she found was the Daytime Education at Recreation program (DEAR).  

DEAR was started by Recreation Supervisor Pamela Gerace in the fall of 2011 in an attempt to re-capture the dwindling attendance of the senior citizen program that had been in place since the opening of the Penfield Community Center in 1985.  

“Adults 50 plus no longer seemed interested in what we had to offer,” says Gerace. “I needed to think outside the recreation box and I did a bit of soul-searching to recognize how my interests after turning 50 could impact a new recreation platform—learning for fun—and so DEAR was born.”  

She was right. Since incorporating this new kind of recreation, the participation numbers have quadrupled. What is really amazing is that out of the 73 programs offered 54 of them are free.  

There are a variety of disciplines offered each semester. For example the new fall program will include classes on DNA, paleontology, British literature, advances in cognitive science, history of freedom, geological wonders, art history, George Eastman Museum History of Photography, and the list goes on.  “There is something for just about everyone,” says Gerace.

DEAR has also been awarded a number of Reading and Discussion (R &D) Grants from Humanities NY (HNY).  Humanities New York is dedicated to helping all New Yorkers lead vibrant intellectual lives by strengthening traditions of cultural literacy, critical inquiry, and civic engagement. This fall will begin a new R & D series entitled “Place and Story”, which will look at human beings’ power to preserve and destroy environments. 

The key to the success is not just the topic but the comradery of the people in the class and the idea that seasoned, curious individuals with life experience can count on each other to bring something to the classroom, even if it’s just chatting with the person sitting next to them. This is what touched the lovely woman who stopped in the office that day. Her experience was a positive affirmation that this program structure was working. 

DEAR relies on volunteer teachers and instructors to facilitate classes. Gerace says the greatest challenge is finding people who are not intimidated to lead a class. She encourages people on a daily basis to step outside their comfort zone to share their own passions, interests, and knowledge with others. “They don’t need to have teaching experience. Learning with others as you go along is completely acceptable and very rewarding. We are even offering a six-week program on ‘How to Facilitate for Fun’,” says Gerace, “with the hopes we can arm someone with the confidence they might need to become a facilitator.”  

The fall class schedule is set to begin the first week of September with Art Symposium: Celebrating Art—one of the seven very affordable FUNdraising events used to help subsidize the free sessions. 

There is so much more to DEAR than just classes. There are people who genuinely care about each other; friendships and connections through intellectually and socially stimulating courses that are the ultimate result of a recreation program which can offer a new world of opportunities to those in retirement. For more information please go to or call us at 340-8664. 

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