Senior Centers Offer Fun, Excursions
By Dianne Anderson
Retired baby boomers, sometimes called “perennials,” are looking for some of the same things in life as their millennial and Generation X counterparts.
They want to look good, get in shape, eat right, dance all night, hit the gym, and hit the road.
Tiffany Starks, community services supervisor for the city of Fontana Community Senior Center, said their facility can help make that happen.
Seniors can get in on great discounts with affordable excursions to faraway places.
In August, they’re off for a full day to the Lobster Festival in Long Beach for $31 per person, which covers admission and travel by charter bus. It doesn’t include lunch, which runs about $20, but participants could break away from the crowd and grab lunch down the street if it’s more affordable. They need only be back before the bus leaves.
Excursion programs for the 55 plus members also allow a friend or relative from age 18-54 to participate if they come with the senior.
“Some seniors don’t want to go by themselves, or they’re new to the area. We have a good group of people that participate every month. We want it to be inclusive,” she said.
Each year, the program hosts about nine exciting excursions, generally within the southern California region. And, there’s always something new and different going on.
“They want to get out of the house and when they do, we want them to have fun,” she said.
In the past, they’ve visited San Diego and Santa Barbara. They’ve taken the day to Temecula for wine tasting, Catalina and Big Bear where they ran ATVs, all-terrain vehicles. Regularly, they also have senior day trips like Pechanga and Morongo casinos. Charter buses have restroom access, and staff members available on board to assist.
For those who crave more than just the local scene, their members can access relatively affordable worldwide excursions through their travel club.
“They’re planning on going to Costa Rica,” she said. “If people are looking for multiple days, we send them to our travel club. They’re affordable.”
So far, members have traveled to Niagara Falls, and Alaska. Because they know seniors don’t have a lot of money, she said they also offer scholarships for residents of Fontana.
“We have seen an uptick in participation when the city started a scholarship program,” she said. “That’s how a lot of them have been able to participate. They use the money from the scholarship to cover costs.”
At the center, some seniors prefer the arts and crafts, or try their hand at Bingo, while others love softball and want to slam the badminton birdie.
When it comes to members, being a certain age doesn’t mean that one size fits all.
“When we look at teens and adults, we see diversity, some are into athletics, or reading dramas,” she said. “We try to be as diverse as we know that seniors are diverse out in the community.”
Jamie Daniels, San Bernardino senior companion program coordinator, said their program helps seniors over 55 years stay in their homes longer, and offers many services, such as grocery shopping, and transportation to doctor’s appointments.
Their volunteer companions also help with adult day care.
“They help with various tasks and respite care,” she said. “Our volunteers work alongside some hospice patients so the caregiver can get a break.”
Many seniors want to stay busy after retirement by helping others in their community, and the program can always use more volunteers.
“They volunteer time in the community, like tutoring for at risk youth, disaster and preparedness with the sheriff department and citizen patrol. There’s also foster grandparents with younger tutoring inside schools,” she said.
In Rialto, at Grace Vargas Senior Center, everyone is invited to visit for programming, not just Rialto residents.
Terry Ermitano, recreation programmer at their facility, said while they haven’t hosted excursions in a while, they do offer numerous activities throughout the week.
Daily, from 11:00 a.m. To 12:30 p.m., they have music and dancing. There’s Bingo on Tuesday and Friday, and free movie and popcorn every Wednesday.
“We have a billiards room, we have arts and crafts hobby time, and wood carving. On top of that, we have dances and senior socials. Vendors come in monthly for Medi-care for resource information,” she said.
Through their nutrition program, seniors access healthy meals, and keep up with their dietary needs. She said that many are still active, with most driving themselves to the center, or they carpooling with others.
One senior has been a regular visitor ever since they opened their doors in 2003.
“Our oldest senior is 101, and he’s on the dance floor every Wednesday or Thursday,” she said. “He comes to lunch, dances with the ladies and then his daughter takes him home.”