As a part of a series of activities to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month 2007 (September 15th to October 15th) the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Aging will recognize nation-wide four model programs serving the Hispanic/Latino elderly at the community level. The California Department of Aging in Sacramento submitted as their nomination Lennox Senior Center.
In what the Administration on Aging (AoA) calls its “Project Champions”, they praise the work of site manager Victor Cajo and Lennox Senior Center as a model program in which the “site coordinator fosters a close community connection that welcomes family and creates a home atmosphere in tune with Hispanic culture. Because services are culturally accessible, this small center packs in 90 people daily and plans to expand to meet service needs.” The AoA goes on to say, “Because it is such a vibrant site, people come early in the morning and stay until after lunch to participate in popular culturally sensitive activities which are essential to maintaining physical, social, cognitive, mental, and spiritual health.” This tiny senior center provides aerobic exercise classes, bingo, dominos, needlepoint and ceramic classes. Additionally, the Lennox Senior Center conducts English as a second language classes and computer classes in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation and the City of Inglewood as often as possible.
The AoA singled out the exceptional intergenerational atmosphere the Lennox Center fosters by sponsoring programs that include community children like a local Girl Scout troupe who came in and gave a presentation on the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Seniors who care for grandchildren often bring them into the senior center for lunch as well.
Lennox site activities promote learning and fun through trips to the zoo or casinos as well as barbeques that feature familiar, culturally appropriate food. The holiday celebrations highlight familiar entertainment such as mariachi bands that help preserve the culture. In summation the AoA said, “The Lennox site is a true community center for low income Hispanic that has created the sense of family. The center addresses specific issues that Hispanic seniors encounter, helps with solutions, and gives seniors a voice and place in the community. When participants are asked why the site is so popular they say “because this is like our family.”
We are so very proud of the work done by Victor Cajo as site manager for the Lennox Senior Center. The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department is delighted about this acknowledgement and nomination as a model program serving Hispanic/Latino seniors. We look forward to the final selection of the four sites in the entire nation who will be named as a Project Champion. Certainly, this is a commendable and noteworthy achievement.