Coming Together in Ways We Never Expected

By Cherie Ravel, Healthy Aging Director, March 2021

Closing the APJCC’s doors brought our senior community together in ways we never expected.

When the APJCC closed its doors in March of last year, we knew we were cutting off a lifeline to the seniors whose social lives were centered at the APJCC, meeting friends, taking classes and working out. The first thing we did to help was create a phone tree. Volunteers and staff made over 900 phone call to older adult members of our community — to make sure they were okay, that understood about social distancing, knew where to go safely, and where to turn for food, masks, and medications.

We talked with so many seniors who felt isolated and had no family in the area, and no one to turn to for help. We couldn’t leave it at a single phone call. Hence, the JBuddies program was created. Vulnerable members of our community were given a buddy, someone who would call them to check in, and let them know that while they were on their own they weren’t alone. Our Buddies are still calling weekly, and over the past year friendships have been born, computers have been fixed, Zoom lessons given and dinners delivered. These friendships will continue long after vaccines have been distributed and members are back inside the APJCC working out.

We also brought our senior classes online. We’ve learned to be adventurers, going places with technology that we wouldn’t without having been pushed. Seniors are taking classes now without worries about driving in the dark, or just worries about driving. Now, not being able to get around isn’t an obstacle to participating in APJCC. We’re feeling empowered, because as long as we can use a computer we can attend a class, go to a concert, and spend time with friends. Now through Zoom the JCC offers Fitness Talks to motivate us on our healthy aging journey, opportunities to document our stories with weekly writing workshops, chances to take a college class to tour a museum in some far off place, or to hear the classics from the comfort of home. Online video streaming makes for a comfortable adventure.

Through the APJCC this last year we’ve tested our limits and pushed beyond with a little help from our friends!