By Christopher Oak Reinier
       Maggie has been a member of the Senior Center for about 10 years. Having retired from a successful professional career, she used the exercise classes offered by the Center to stay in shape, and has continued to use them even after being handicapped by melanoma cancer a few years ago. She meets a friend now regularly at the Center to walk together in the neighborhood.
      The Center has become a big part of her social life, because it has become so difficult for her to get around.  “I enjoy the activities, the dinners, the luncheons, the field trips, and I enjoy the company. I went on the field trip to the Coppola winery. It was lovely sitting out in the elegant air.” 
      But it’s mostly the good company she can find at the Center.  “It’s a place where we can kind of acknowledge the fact that we’re still here. I was at the Center and an old friend stopped in I hadn’t seen for awhile, and she saw me and said, ‘O good! You’re still here!’  We both got a laugh from that. Because, if you’re in your eighties…”
      “And there’s another thing: If you want to do something as a couple, you can, but either way, if something doesn’t interest my husband, I can find friends here at the Center to do it with me.”
       “In other countries, children expect to take care of their aging parents. Here in our country, it isn’t so expected. We teach our kids to go out and build a life of their own. Many of them scatter. We teach them to be independent apart from us. The result is many of our elderly are on their own, living alone. There are a lot of elderly citizens who suffer emotionally and physically because of their loneliness.  Other countries don’t need Senior Centers, like we do.”