IMPERIAL — Senior adults and their caretakers on Wednesday, Jan. 8, were presented with entertainment and an opportunity to socialize with friends, plus a chance to win door prizes at the 15th Annual Senior Appreciation Day at Casa de Mañana Building, Imperial Valley Fairgrounds in Imperial.
Masquerade, this year’s theme, prompted seniors to wear masks and feathers to cover and decorate their faces.
“When seniors look forward to going somewhere because of somebody made them look good—then, it promotes a healthy environment and a time of socialization keeps our older adults active in our community,” said Blankenship of the 71-year-old volunteer Salazar who volunteers at Calexico Nutrition Site.
Added to this year’s senior appreciation was the incorporation of education associated with adult care.
“We’ve added two workshops—“Estate Planning” by Ryan Childers from Childers and Associates; and “Nutrition Education” from the University of California Cooperative Extension,” said Rosie Blankenship, Imperial County Public Administrator/ Area Agency on Aging Director.
“We wanted our older adult population to get educated in certain areas within their life realm. It has proven to be successful,” said Blankenship, who was masked and dressed in a masquerade outfit.
The result was so encouraging according to Blankenship, the workshops will be expanded and guest speakers will be invited based on areas affecting the aging population of Imperial Valley.
Honors were bestowed to this year’s Norma Saikhon Volunteer of the Year: Maria Guadalupe Salazar de Madera.
“Her smile and laughter, she is just so engaging,” Blankenship said.
Salazar volunteers four hours each day—Monday through Thursday. During those days she helps with cleaning tables, prepares tea and coffee, and with cleaning lavatories.
Salazar, born in Guadalajara, Jalisco in Mexico has four sons, a daughter and nine grandchildren. Her family has lived in Tijuana and Mexicali, and later in Los Angeles and Calexico, CA.
Certificates of recognition were presented to Salazar by representatives from the offices of Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, California State Assembly—56th District; and Senator Ben Hueso, California State Senate—40th District.
Pure Inspiration & the Eastside Brass band performed live, and senior adults responded by dancing on the floor in front of the stage.
Among the dancers were husband and wife José Alberto Valdez, 74, and Maria del Carmen Valdez, 69. The couple, married for 52 years, moved in unison on the dance floor.
The Calexico Ladies Danzon dance group, in their white costumes and red folding fans, also performed for the audience.
For lunch, the seniors were served pre-packaged meals which included rice, barbacoa, beans, cookies, and salad. In-between performances and entertainment, raffle tickets were drawn to announce the door prize winners. Among the prizes were a blanket, a coffee pot, and chocolates.