Numerous California senior centers offer a variety of experiences geared toward pleasing most anyone’s tastes and needs, from dancing, making new friends, adult day care, meals, medical assistance, Meals on Wheels for the housebound, elderly abuse reporting, to the ever-popular bingo. Many aging programs assist seniors with information and education on specific topics, including advice and support groups for caregivers who deal daily with elderly patients.
They generally offer meals, legal aid and counseling, free tax service, some transportation, classes, health information, entertainment, and employment assistance, some for a small fee. Larger ones may have personal care programs, such as haircuts or foot care.
Some large centers offer the Elderhostel program, a chance to travel and learn at the same time, nationally or overseas, through nearby colleges and universities. See roadscholar.org and wikipedia.org/wiki/Elderhostel for more information.
Senior centers are funded at local, state and federal levels, and may depend on grants and donations, as well. The Frontier Senior Center in Anderson, California, which opened in June, 1997, operates with only two paid employees. They rely heavily on volunteers to assist with their various programs,, including bingo, pinochle, quilting classes, exercise, crafts, card games, and line dancing, plus many more.
One such volunteer is Grace Fillmore, who has volunteered for more than 30 years at the Anderson Senior Citizens Club, which rents its space from the Frontier Senior Center, and before that held their meetings at a VFW hall. Grace began volunteering before she was a senior, as her husband had joined, and she wanted to participate fully in his life.
Grace has served as everything from vice president, on the board of directors, secretary pro tem, to parliamentarian, her current position. She also sells raffle tickets and bingo cards at the center, and volunteers for other programs occasionally, such as dances and dinners.
She delivered commodities as part of the Senior Nutrition program, for a time. “When I took the bags to housebound seniors, they didn’t care what food I brought,” she said. “They just wanted the conversation. I really enjoyed that part of it so much.”
For information on volunteering or participating at your local center, see the California State List: Senior Centers under careforcalifornia.net/services and theseniorsource.org/volunteer.
“You get much more out of it than you put into it,” Grace Fillmore adds.