KINGSBURG – It’s been 44 years since Kingsburg first had a senior center and judging by the packed dining hall, it’s facility that local seniors say offers more than just lessons and lunch.

“They’re like a family,” said current Senior Center Board President Cathy Sanchez amid the Nov. 13 celebration to honor the occasion. “It was Gilbert Owen that first opened up the center for us.”

Mayor Michelle Roman spoke to audience updating residents on recent developments in town regarding incoming businesses, new fire and police department purchases and hires made with Measure E tax dollars, the new Dala Trolley, upcoming senior housing Linnea Village that will break ground in December and the fitness facilities for adults that are part of the new amenities at Athwal Park.

“We’ve got a lot going on with public safety and a lot of really good things going on with Kingsburg,” she told the visitors.

During the anniversary lunch, Sanchez shared results with how well their local quilting group did at the Big Fresno Fair and later touted how their involved board members get things done.

“It’s not just one person that runs this. It’s not just the president; it’s everybody on the board. They have ideas and we go for it and if it can happen, it’s going to happen. If you ask them, at the drop of a dime, they’re there. I’ve got a great board.”

Sanchez said while some local seniors come just for the daily lunch, others take advantage of the different activities going on through the week. There are chair and floor exercise lessons, tai chi, knitting and crocheting, painting, line dancing, quilting, bingo and even the music jams on the first Saturdays of the month.

“When I first got voted in as president I said, ‘we need to do more activities.’ And they asked, ‘who’s going to do it?’ I said, ‘we are and the City’s going to help us.’ I talked to [Community Services Director] Adam [Castaneda] and he said, ‘go for it.’ The seniors get excited for the bingo, the prizes and the raffles,” she said of their enthusiasm.

Their board members agree the Center offers not only many activities, but a chance to make new friends, catch up with old ones and have a sense of family since other relatives are either far away, or busy working and raising families of their own.

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“Don’t just stay at home and be an old lady. Get out of bed and come down to the Senior Center,” Ophelia Sanchez advised. She’s lived in Kingsburg for 82 years and may have left for a while but came back to raise her family.

“We have good schools here in Kingsburg. But my kids are grandparents are already.”

Just recently, the nearby Washington Elementary pre-school students and kindergarteners came by to trick or treat and the seniors had Halloween party of their own complete with costume contests as well.

“I dressed up as an airline pilot on the day of the dead,” Anita Starr said. “[The Senior Center] is a wonderful place to meet new people and old friends. Now you get a chance to come back say, wow, I remember that!”

Ruth Griffin added that of the different recreational activities there, bingo is her favorite.

“I personally like the bingo and then they have the quilting club, the painting and dancing and exercise. Just about anything you want to do.”

Mayor Roman said she’s glad Kingsburg has a thriving Senior Center for residents to enjoy friendship and camaraderie.

“Seniors need a place to gather and I don’t want to see them at home alone. I love that they have a place they can come to, whether it’s to play game, or do the quilting. They have so much going on here and I also know they have a warm meal as well. I wished my grandparents had a place this where I’m from. We didn’t have anything like this so it makes me feel real good that we take really good care of our seniors here in Kingsburg.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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