Senior Center thrives with dedicated support staff

Upon first glance, the Sierra 2 Senior Center is a relatively small operation within the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association. But the Senior Center in Room 12 has a growing number of participants. In 2017, the center hosted 6,712 visits from older adults—up 1,214 from the previous year’s attendance record. In addition to the increased volume of senior participants, the Senior Center also programs high-quality events and activities. All this wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful support staff— a program assistant, a volunteer and an intern.

Charso Elliot is the program assistant overseeing daily operations by answering inquiries, tracking attendance and playing barista by keeping the urns full of freshly brewed coffee. Although Charso is relatively new to the position, she already feels at home in the Senior Center. “The participants here are nice and sociable,” Charso said. “Someone is always inviting me to join their class or potluck. I feel very comfortable and lucky to be working here.”

The program assistant position is part of the federally funded Senior Community Service Employment Program that helps older workers find jobs and update their skills.

On Fridays, the Senior Center is fortunate to have volunteer A.J. McClinton on-site to work with the pinochle players and the talented seniors of the Open Art Studio. A.J. has undertaken the monthly potlucks, infusing the social activity with fun themes, games and even an “upcycled fashion show” with looks from local thrift stores. A.J. first found the Senior Center when she was exploring her volunteer options. “Society places more focus on helping youth rather than seniors… so I decided to donate time and services to help seniors,” A.J. said. She is a welcome face in the Senior Center, bringing treats to the potlucks and providing rides home to those who need them, all because “the seniors are like family.”

The newest addition is Kate Lauter, a gerontology intern from Sacramento State University. Kate’s close bond and friendship with her grandfather sparked a curiosity and affinity for older adults and her pursuit of a gerontology degree. Her internship goals are to familiarize herself with the inner workings of the Senior Center and develop an activity for her community project. Kate hopes to “build relationships with adults at the Senior Center through program development but also by simply talking and listening.”

As the Senior Center progresses and evolves, it does so in the hands of people who have a genuine passion for the community it serves. Please stop by the Senior Center to become better acquainted with the staff who support it.

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