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Susan Crosby: A walk through the LOEL Senior Center

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Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2017 12:30 pm

This gem of a facility was started in 1976 by Lodian William Holz and continues to thrive today. I was recently given a tour by Tracy Williams, CEO and president, that opened my eyes to LOEL’s amazing programs for seniors and the elderly.

The versatility of their offerings starts outside the building, where there’s a bin to collect used eyeglasses.

Step inside the front door, and to the left is the reception counter, where you sign up for the services. This is your place to start, especially if you are a first-timer. Tell them you’ve never been before, and they will guide you, even seating you for lunch with some old pros who know the ropes. Right away you’ll feel at home.

Make sure you check out the bulletin board by the reception area, on which is posted all of the month’s events and activities. Ask to have your name added to the monthly newsletter mailing lists, as reservations for lunch must be made.

A calendar (available to take home) lists the lunch menus, nutritious meals served Monday through Friday, promptly at 11:30 a.m. The excellent meals provide not only good nutritional value, but also the chance to interact with peers, which is sometimes lacking in a senior’s life.

From the commercial kitchen, the staff prepares and serves 75 to 150 meals daily at the senior center, 40 at a Lockeford facility, and 54 Meals on Wheels. A $3 donation is suggested, but if you are unable to pay that, consider contributing what you can. No one is denied a meal for lack of money.

The meals, like all of the other services, are not funded by city, state or federal funds. The center applies for block grant funding, and to San Joaquin County for county funding to help provide seed money for their in-house meals. United Way of San Joaquin also helps fund the in-house meals. Additionally, LOEL relies heavily on private donations.

The activity hall, where lunch is served, is home to most of the center’s physical activities: exercise class Monday through Thursday, yoga on Mondays, tai chi on Wednesdays and line dancing on Fridays.

The library, with tons of books to borrow, is host to a book club, a writing group, Brain Builders and small meetings, and offers two computers for public use. The activity room provides space for table games, which include bridge, whist, pinochle, mahjong, poker and canasta, plus all skill levels of knitters and crocheters, who meet on Fridays.

All of these activities offer social interaction that can lead to new and enduring friendships, and a chance to keep your brain firing on all cylinders. Showing up to play, participate and learn can give you a sense of anticipation and purpose. You’ll also laugh, and laughter, as we know, is the best medicine.

Speaking of medicine, the center also houses HICAP (Health Insurance Counseling for Medicare), a service provided by appointment only and a wonderful resource right here in Lodi.

In the next column, I’ll highlight the various others services that the LOEL Senior Center offers, which are numerous, and are manned by generous volunteers who are experts in their fields.

But feel free to start with lunch as a getting-to-know-you opportunity. Maybe you can think of someone who would benefit from the good food and great company but who is nervous about trying it out. We’re all a little afraid of new experiences, so perhaps you could bring that person yourself for the first visit. After that, it will be much easier for them to come alone.

And if you can’t get into the center to pick up a newsletter (at 105 S. Washington St.), call and ask to be added to the mailing list (209-369-1591) or go to the website (www.loelcenter.net) and click on “Newsletter” to view it online, or click on “Lunch Menu” to see the meal plan for the entire month. Or click on “Contact” to send a form requesting these items be sent to your home address.

The LOEL Senior Center is waiting to serve you. Come and play with them.

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

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