TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Many seniors can feel isolated and inactive after retiring from work, and seeing their children grown and off raising families of their own. The Topeka Lulac Senior Center enables older people to socialize, stay mobile and live independently.
Eighty-eight-year-old Tom Caballero said he loves hanging out with the gang.
“I come here every day,” Caballero said. “God willing I don’t feel sick or nothing.”
Ninety-two-year-old Dorothy Reich is the oldest person at the center. She lives alone with her dog now that her husband has passed away and her children are all grown. She said it’s important to stay active.
“You just have to keep going,” Reich said. “You can’t just sit and feel sorry for yourself.”
The center offers activities and classes for participants from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Inside the center, people enjoy dancing, playing bingo and trivia and taking classes.
It teaches fitness, cooking, gardening and computer skills. It also offers fun activities like shopping, bowling and dining trips.
The center’s executive director, Kathy Votaw, said part of the joy in working with the people in the center is it reminds her of the time she spent with her own grandparents.
“It’s like having a whole room full of grandma and grandpas all over again,” Votaw said.
She said the center works to keep people from feeling bored or lonely.
“Keeping people busy, and active and finding their strength in numbers,” she said.
The non-profit center receives money from the city, state, United Way and other sources. The funding allows them to offer services to seniors for free, although some of the group trips may cost money for the participants.
The center also partners with Senior Employment Retraining Program to provide jobs for a few people on its staff. Lulac Senior Center serves as a distribution point for Meals on Wheels and commodity foods from Harvesters Community Food Network.