Healthy Aging Beyond 50
By Gloria Vaquera Photos by Bill Faulkner
The Mission of the City of Las Cruces Senior Programs and Munson Center is to promote and enhance the physical, intellectual, social and creative well-being of individuals 50+ in order to improve their quality of life. For nearly four decades, the City has been committed to serving the needs of its elder population through five centers conveniently located throughout the city, offering a variety of cultural, creative, recreational and fitness activities in addition to nutritious meals.
The Munson Center is the largest of the five centers and offers such things as silver jewelry classes, faceting, stained glass and a lapidary certification class. Over the years, the center has maintained its warm and friendly atmosphere and has welcomed those who come with the purpose of creating new friendships, discovering new hobbies and joining in recreational activities. One of the most popular activities is gathering in the multipurpose room for billiards. And with the recent redecorating that happened at the Munson Center, seniors are also enjoying the inviting feel and spending more time socializing in the lobby area. Becoming a member of the Munson Senior Center is an opportunity for seniors to broaden their horizons and be a part of a group that shares their interests.
The four other centers –Sage Café, Henry Benavidez, Eastside and Frank O’Brien Papen– are all community centers offering a variety of activities including chess classes, bingo, fitness classes, wood carving, arts and crafts, conversation groups and support groups to name a few. The centers also have art wings, meeting rooms, a library and computer room available where the different activities take place. During the holidays special events are held at the various centers like the Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner, New Year’s Eve Dance and Volunteer Fair.
There are many reasons why local seniors should visit one of the senior centers, but the main one is the wonderful staff members who greet their patrons and volunteers with a heartwarming approach and are willing to assist in any way they can. Serving more than 1,600 individuals a year and more than 16,000 members, the staff and volunteers work together seamlessly to provide a diverse range of programs to Las Cruces seniors.
Linda Dominguez is a congregate client at the Eastside Community Center and she says, “I like talking to the people at the center. Every day, I look forward to coming. Everyone is so nice, especially the staff. The food is really good.”
Numerous volunteering opportunities exist at all centers including food distribution and setting up spaces for events. Last year in February, Las Cruces Senior Programs and Morning Star United Methodist Church partnered to provide a grocery bag of non-perishable food items to our homebound seniors who have been identified as being nutritionally at risk. At the time there were 15 consumers identified; today there are 21 receiving this service. Morning Star United Methodist Church utilizes volunteers to pack and deliver grocery bags to Munson Center on a monthly basis and Senior Program’s meal-delivery drivers deliver the groceries to the consumers. Anyone over the age of 18 is encouraged to join and serve their community by being a part of the team as a volunteer.
The Resource Center, located at the Munson Center, provides information, referrals, assistance and advocacy to seniors free of charge. They have bilingual staff on hand that can provide information by phone, in-person, or by mail and give clients accurate, unbiased information for making informed decisions. They may also assist with Medicaid and Medicare questions, referrals to legal services and community resources. No appointment is necessary for general questions, however, for situations requiring a lengthy session or filling out forms, appointments are highly recommended.
For seniors who may have a preconceived notion that a senior center is not for them, a visit to one of the City of Las Cruces Senior Programs may be all it takes to change their mind. Not only have the senior centers become a home away from home for many, but they also offer an exciting place to gather, stay active and make new friends.
For more information on any of these and other services the City of Las Cruces Senior Programs provides or for volunteer opportunities please contact the Munson Center at (575) 528-3000 or visit the website at www.las-cruces.org.