Susan Crosby: A walk through the LOEL Senior Center, part 2 - Lodinews.com: Lodi Living

Susan Crosby: A walk through the LOEL Senior Center, part 2

Posted: Saturday, July 29, 2017 4:30 pm

In my last column, we explored LOEL's services relating to food and some of their activities. Because they are a very busy place with lots of services, I split the article in two. Here's what else happens:

High school student volunteers teach a class they call Technology for Savvy Seniors. If you have or are considering getting a Kindle, iPad or iPhone, this is the place to come. The volunteers are available once a month from October through April, on the fourth Thursday of the month, from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. Two personal computers are available for use onsite at any time.

You'll find a large community bulletin board with personal want ads and resource info.

From February to April 15, they offer free tax service, sponsored by AARP. Last year they helped 500 people. 

There is a 32-bed community garden. For $20 a year, you can claim one of these planters for your own use, whether for flowers, fruits or vegetables. The boxes themselves are tall, so no one has to kneel to tend them. It's in a gated and locked area to which you'll have your own access. 

Clean, affordable housing is available under Section 8, all in eyeshot of LOEL: two 5-unit and one 3-unit apartment houses, plus one house. Rent is 30 percent of the tenant's income. You must be 62 or over. There is always a waiting list.

On the LOEL wish list is the future renovation of the backyard/patio to provide a roundabout drop-off (people usually have to double park in order to drop off a visitor, a risky undertaking), another set of restrooms (there is only one set now), and the reconstruction of the backyard into a permanent activity room. This will allow the tables and chairs used for lunch (their busiest time of day), to remain in place instead of having to move them daily to hold the physical activity classes. 

For now the patio is unusable because of uneven land that doesn't accommodate walkers or wheelchairs, or provide proper shelter from the weather. It will be a huge undertaking, requiring a large fundraising effort.

As with any organization of this kind, volunteers are critical to its success. Senior volunteer positions are available for packers/runners for Meals on Wheels, folding the monthly newsletter, and teaching Brain Builders. Help is always needed. 

The people who dish up and serve lunch come from 13 to 17 groups, including City of Lodi employees, 50 Plus Club, Women's Club, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge, LOEL Exercise, Young Ladies Institute, and churches, including St. Anne's and St. Peter's. Do you belong to a group willing to help?

The amazing list of services goes on to include a Mobile Farmers Market, put on by the Stockton Emergency Food Bank, which comes to the center the second Wednesday of every month. 

Blood pressure checks happen every Tuesday at 9 a.m., and podiatry exams on Thursday, every two months, by appointment. Medicare counseling is available. 

A service called In-Touch Calling makes personal phone calls to seniors who live alone and need daily contact. 

Free legal services are available on the second Thursday of every month, by appointment only, and cover needs such as wills, trusts, power of attorney designations, and answering personal questions. 

Counseling is available to address issues like grief, loneliness and depression, which can lead to mental health referrals. 

Let's not forget the fun, social events. Twice a month, the center shows a movie after lunch. Occasionally there are dinner-and-a-movie nights. A really special event is coming on Aug. 17, the Hot August Night Dinner Dance. Raffle tickets will be sold ahead of time, as well as attendance tickets. 

Then on Sept. 30, it's the LobsterMania Fundraiser, a truly big event, which will take place at Chardonnay Hall at the Grape Festival Grounds.

When I first visited LOEL, I knew it was a busy facility. Now I also know how important it is to the well-being of their attendees. Being elderly can be isolating and lonely. At LOEL, people find a warm and welcoming community to brighten their days. 

It can be hard to take the first step and try something out of our comfort zone. It can also be life-changing. Take the first step at LOEL Senior Center: 105 W. Washington St., Lodi, CA 95240; 209-369-1591, www.loelcenter.net.

Susan Crosby is a Lodi author and a member of Lodi's Senior Citizens Commission.