With COVID-19 still prevalent, the vast senior citizen community continues to be at risk.
The Clovis Senior Activity Center was once a place where senior citizens participated in recreational activities such as line dancing, painting, scrapbooking, tai chi and yoga. Ever since its closure in March, some are left wondering how senior citizens in the community occupy their time in the midst of this pandemic.
“Our seniors have been doing many things to occupy their time,” said Nella Audas, who is the Nutrition Program Coordinator at the Clovis Senior Activity Center. “Many have chosen to stay at home, having their children, grandchildren or other relatives assist them with their needs.”
Stores that open early for senior citizens have made life easier for seniors who take care of themselves.
“The stores that are open early for seniors have really helped with safety concerns,” says Audas. “They are using their masks when outside, and limit their time out.”
Audas claims that certain seniors have taken this time to help out the community in many ways. “There were some seniors who jumped right in, and started making cloth masks to be used in the hospitals or personal use.”
Beryl Williams, 69, has made over 100 cloth masks since the pandemic, and donated half of those masks to Hands On Central California.
Hands On Central California is a nonprofit organization that has contributed in many ways by hosting volunteering events throughout the Central Valley since 1962.
Since the start of the shelter in place orders, Beryl took this time to use her sewing machine to make masks for hospital workers and employees at the Senior Center after her sister asked her if she wanted to help create and donate masks to Hands On.
“When they contacted me I said, ‘Yes, I could do it,’” said Williams. “Then when they came over and brought me the materials, I made 50 more, and gave all my other ones to my family and the rest to Nella at the Senior Center.”
Williams first got involved at the Clovis Senior Center through her mother and sister. “I go over there because my mom goes there everyday. We were there with her everyday before COVID-19, and my sister also works there.”
Beryl’s mother, who is 90 years old, has been a faithful member of the Clovis Senior Center for over 20 years. “She would do her little volunteer stuff over there,” says Williams. “She’d help with the mailers, and volunteer with hosting lunches at the Senior Center.”
Because of the pandemic, it’s been difficult for Beryl to see her mother miss out on attending events and programs with her friends at the Senior Center.
“I’m there for my mother, and we’re trying to make sure she stays safe and healthy,” says Williams. “Whenever she needs to go to a doctor’s appointment, or anything, I’m always available to take her to appointments and pick up anything she needs.”
While others continue to help health care workers and the rest of the community, most seniors have taken this time to occupy themselves with hobbies and outdoor activities.
“They have a radio that they use to exercise by and to practice their line dancing,” says Audas. “We have some who are working puzzles, taking walks, and working in their shops making things.”
Even seniors that are tech-savvy will take online tutorials on YouTube, and enjoy visits with loved ones.
In hindsight, Audas understands the eagerness of seniors who constantly ask when the Senior Center will reopen for activities and programs.
“Many of our seniors just miss each other and the friendships they have at the Senior Center. It’s not easy having to tell them, “not yet,” but we try to keep them upbeat during this difficult time.”
For Nella Audas, receiving calls from regulars at the Clovis Senior Activity Center gives her a sense of relief.
“Sometimes, just talking with them helps. I know it helps me to stay in touch with them and know that they are doing ok.”