One participant was overheard explaining at a newcomers’ meeting that she needed a place to retire to after retiring from her career. The JCC offers such a place as she is exploring a variety of interests she wants to pursue such as taking classes in nutrition, current events, and music appreciation, just for fun to keep her brain active.
A Holocaust survivor, Hanna M., said she used to come all the way from East County to swim at the JCC, even though there were pools in her area, because this was her community and she considers this her “second home”. She also loves to attend the Jewish holiday celebrations organized by the JCC’s Senior Department as the retirement home in which she resides does not have any.
Studies conducted by the California Commission on Aging and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania conclude that “successful aging is more likely when individuals are actively engaged in life. Senior centers are one of the most accessible, friendly and inexpensive places that offer programs and services that promote active engagement and enjoyment of life by older adults.” Activity participation is essential to quality of life, and has important life benefits such as reducing the risk of depression and global cognitive decline, and enhancing social connectedness.
“I’m not even Jewish and I feel like I belong at the JCC. My wife and I were coming for many years, and when she passed away, this became my family. I started volunteering for various programs, and I enjoy taking classes, swimming and going to theater and other outings that I wouldn’t normally go to alone”, said Peter S.
The Senior Department, headed by Melanie Rubin who has been working at the JCC for 23 years, serves “basically anyone who has time on their hands during the day” whether newly retired or 90+. Seniors have numerous choices on how to spend their leisure time: such as participating in intergenerational programs like reading stories in the library to preschoolers, or getting technology questions answered by teenagers who tutor them on their devices, signing up for cultural outings, enrolling in free classes offered at the JCC by the San Diego Community College Continuing Education’s Emeritus program in music, art, current events, literature and more, or having a home away from home to celebrate Jewish holidays, attending workshops to prevent becoming a victim of scams, taking a fitness class, receiving legal advice at a free legal clinic, or even volunteering to feel a sense of purpose.
Kathy Sullivan, Executive Director of the West Chester Area Senior Center in West Chester, PA describes the role of senior centers as “a place for older adults to meet for services and activities that reflect their experience and skills, respond to their diverse needs and interests, enhance their dignity, support their independence and encourage their involvement in the center and community.”
“There’s something about this place” describes the Lawrence Family JCC for many age groups, but especially for senior adults. For more information about the JCC Senior Department’s programs and services, call (858) 362-1141 or visit lfjcc.org and check out the Shofar newsletter under Senior Adults.