HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – A place that provides social, health and educational activities for senior citizens in Hays County is turning people away because they don’t have enough room.

Membership to the Kyle Area Senior Zone (KASZ) grew dramatically after the pandemic and now the county is lending a hand to fund a new space.

“We’re busting at the seams. We can only feed at lunch max 80 people and we have to turn the rest away. And that just kills me to do that to people,” said Betty Conley, president of the Kyle Area Senior Zone.

Betty Conley holding an image rendering of the new Kyle Area Senior Zone
President of the Kyle Area Senior Zone, Betty Conley, said they’ve outgrown their current space since more seniors started coming after the pandemic.

Commissioners approved $106,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the organization to help with their efforts to build a space.

“It’s going to be approximately 38,000 plus square feet,” Conley said.

Conley said the new place will have a commercial kitchen, a game room, a quilters room, and an activity room.

“There are all kinds of programs we can bring in there that would help everybody in every way. What I’m looking for is this to be a one-stop safe place for the young and for the old,” Conley said.

It’s a project that has KASZ member Cynthia Bentley excited for the future.

Cynthia Bentley sits at a table eating lunch with friends
Cynthia Bentley said KASZ gave her the friendships she desperately needed after moving to the area 10 years ago.

“This was my place where I can come to see people my age, people experience some of the same things that I’ve experienced, and just to be able to talk and to be in this environment,” Bentley said.

These are friendships she didn’t have before moving to Hays County in 2012.

“I’ve made quite a few friends here. We have a lot of great camaraderie. We laugh and talk together,” Bentley said.

Right now there’s no timeline for when the center will be built. But, knowing it will be around for generations to come motivates current KASZ members to get it up and running.

“I don’t know if I’ll see the center in my lifetime, because I’m not a spring chicken. People that you know, that’s 50 years old and 55 years old, they will be able to benefit from this new place,” Bentley said.

This new building would help the growing senior community in the area.

According to the Texas Demographic Center, between 2015 to 2030 the number of people over the age of 65 will grow in Hays County by nearly 200%.