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Senior Center Sashays Into Summer Season
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Jane Finkenbine, left, stops for a socially-distanced selfie with a local senior during their Tuesday lunch deliveries at the Gladys Lemmons Senior Center in Oakdale. Photo Contributed

While the Oakdale Gladys Lemmons Senior Center may not be able to open its doors right now, Oakdale City Recreation Manager, Jane Finkenbine, is making sure her seniors are well cared for, regardless.

“I certainly miss them all,” she shared.

With an open-door policy in effect previously at the center – prior to COVID – Finkenbine’s days were usually full of seniors popping their heads into her office for a quick chat and check-up. Now, she’s calling them on the phone weekly for check-ins to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything they need. She’s also working on sending out a monthly newsletter with basic information about the center along with trivia and puzzles for some light entertainment.

In the meantime, the Senior Center, with help from volunteers, has been doing Tuesday lunches beginning at 10:45 a.m. where seniors can stop by, get a contactless lunch delivery, and take it home. While the meals have been frozen, and are certainly healthier than TV dinners, Finkenbine is excited by a new partnership that will start to include fresh produce with the meals. They currently average about 160 seniors taking advantage of this program.

For those who need delivery and more meals, Finkenbine suggests reaching out to Meals on Wheels at 209-558-8698. Moreover, those seniors that had enjoyed cooling off in the center during the summers can visit the Oakdale Public Library to find space to cool down when the temperatures climb into the oppressive range. The library is open only as a cooling center.

“I’m busy in an empty space, which is sad. But I appreciate seeing seniors for Tuesdays,” Finkenbine noted. “I would like to do a virtual lunch bunch to get on Zoom and eat lunch together.”

While some seniors are very tech savvy, Finkenbine often has to call those who aren’t to help them with the internet and Zoom. As they begin to explore who has access to what, whose grandkids can help, and what it looks like to do senior center life virtually, there are already some steps in a communal direction.

Finkenbine recently initiated the Senior Center’s first virtual class. Linda, who teaches line dancing at the center, is doing a Zoom virtual line dancing class. Finkenbine has admitted “it’s a little rocky,” but they’re happy to do something that promotes community and activity.

And as Finkenbine and her team work to add more opportunities to meet online, seniors would be grateful for check-ins and for family and friends to help technology newbies out with future Zoom classes and meet-ups. For more information about the Senior Center, call (209) 845-3566.