JFS Blog

Our Favorite Moments from Senior Center Month

National Senior Center Month

In honor of National Senior Center Month, we got out our cameras and took a deep dive into the day-to-day happenings at our Social & Wellness Centers on College Avenue and Balboa Avenue.

We spent time with clients and staff, took loads of photos, and immersed ourselves in the unique atmosphere at each Center. Over the course of the month, we met scientists, inventors, teachers, competitive swimmers, and someone (we can’t say who) that may or may not have worked for the CIA. We danced with centenarians, and got to know a very special 9-year-old named Tate.

We learned a lot about what makes our Social & Wellness Centers such an important part of our community. We loved every moment. Here are a few of our favorite takeaways.

One of the things you’ll notice about our Social & Wellness Centers is the sheer variety of activities that happen here every day. Over the course of the month, we participated in art and computer classes, lectures on history and culture, group exercise, trivia games, and lots of live entertainment – including a concert by some really talented young musicians.

Behind all the action are dedicated Program Managers, like Elissa Landsman and Aviva Saad – people who clearly love what they do and the people they care for. (Evidence: 9 out of 10 pictures on Aviva’s cellphone are of the older adults she works with at the Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center.) Aviva, Elissa, and their colleagues are experts in the art of aging and they make it their personal mission to ensure that everyone at their Centers stay active and engaged.

Much more than a place to play bingo, our Social & Wellness Centers are a home away from home.

We often say that volunteers are the heart of JFS. This is especially true inside our Social & Wellness Centers, where volunteers work side-by-side with staff to serve meals, welcome newcomers, and make sure everyone is having a good time.

Most of our volunteers have been with us for years. They know everybody and everybody knows them.
The warmth they spread is contagious.

At our Balboa Avenue or College Avenue Center, one of the highlights is the door-to-door transportation
provided by On the Go. And it has everything to do with our friendly drivers.

John has just about the best voice that anyone has ever heard and he’s known for singing to his riders en route to JFS. And occasionally, he’ll make a special guest performance after lunch. (Yes, he takes requests.)

John’s colleague, Jim, has been taking folks to and from the Center for 15 years and he’s on a first-name
basis with everyone he drives. He knows what makes each of them special and all of their favorite dance moves. He treats every rider like family.

If you want to keep up with this crowd, a good pair of dancing shoes are pretty much a prerequisite. When the music starts, so does the dancing. And, if you’re in the room, chances are you’ll be pulled onto the dance floor—so you’d better be prepared to move.

A definite highlight is lunchtime, when staff, clients, and volunteers sit down together to enjoy a Kosher
home-cooked meal. When you get this group seated around the table, they love to tell jokes and share stories. There’s never a shortage of laughter and the atmosphere feels a lot like family dinner.

You can feel the love at every table.

One of our favorite moments was celebrating Theresa’s 99th birthday.

Theresa’s been a part of the Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center longer than anyone. She began attending as a volunteer more than 18 years ago, and was even named a Volunteer of the Year.

Eventually, the Center became such a part of Theresa’s life that, when a stroke forced her to retire from
volunteering, she continued coming back as a client. The people she’s met here have become her second family.

Over the summer, we had the chance to meet a wonderful kid named Tate. At 9 years old, Tate made JFS history as our youngest ever volunteer. He quickly became the darling of the Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center – and was an absolute rock star on the dance floor.

One of Tate’s favorite dance partners was Tom. Even with Parkinson’s Disease, Tom loves to dance – walker and all. At the end of the summer, when it was time for Tate to go back to school, Tom wrote him a note that said, “There are many people in my world and I’m glad you’re one of them.” Tate keeps it pinned up on the wall in his room.

It takes a special kind of strength to support a loved one with Alzheimer’s. The Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center is a place where caregivers can rest and recharge, and share meaningful connections at a bi-monthly support and discussion group delivered in partnership with Alzheimer’s San Diego.

Caregivers pour so much love into what they do. We loved spending time with the wonderful people who care for our favorite older adults.

Hands down, the best part of our Social & Wellness Centers is the company – the staff, older adults,
caregivers, and volunteers who come together to sing, dance, exercise, awaken their inner Picasso,
and connect with each other over lunch. Over the month, we saw spirits lifted, milestones celebrated,
and beautiful friendships form.

Senior Center Month

When we consider what JFS Social & Wellness Centers mean to seniors our community, we think 9-year-old Tate says it best.

“I think the Center is a really good place for seniors. Without it, my friends would be at home, maybe all alone…just watching TV. But because of the Center, they have people to talk to, eat lunch with, and dance with. I love being there. And we have such a good time when we’re all together.”

Our Social & Wellness Centers are made possible by the generous support of our donors. You can help you help shape the future of this vital community.

More Posts

10 Reasons Older San Diegans Love Using OTG Navigator

In a sprawling region like San Diego, reliable personal transportation is fundamental to individual well-being. Yet nearly 1 in...

Finding Home – Zockie’s Story

Issues like homelessness can feel bigger than any one of us. Learn how we are working together to help...

Meet Morris, Our December Volunteer of the Month

Since signing on as a volunteer Rides & Smiles driver in 2010, Morris Streater has dedicated thousands of hours...
Back to the Blog