Seniors from Porterville and surrounding areas were waiting at the Porterville/Santa Fe Senior Center as early as 7:30 a.m. said Raquel Gomez of Community Services Employment Training, (CSET).

Seniors were enjoying a cake walk, similar to musical chairs, and many won prizes. Afterwards women were dancing to the lively music and having a great time together. 

The whole event was the kickoff for the opening of the Senior Center on 4th Street, and Elisa Ramos said they wanted to make sure they could do it safely.

"I'm just so excited that we are opening our doors again, and I'm happy we partnered with health care providers to help seniors get caught up on their shots in a place they feel comfortable and safe," said Gomez.

Saul Magana, a CSET employee said the local seniors were so excited the center was reopening again Monday. after being closed during the COVID pandemic. Everyone was glad to see their friends and spend time together.

Josefina Gabriela Alvarado danced joyfully in her green Sombrero and festive attire with a few other older women while music was played by a DJ.

Other older people sat by and chatted or ate fresh tacos provided by a local vendor. 

Alvarado who was clearly having a marvelous time with her friends, and said, with Elisa Ramos of CSET translating, "I am grateful that I get to live in this free country, and I get to celebrate my culture with my family and friends. I am grateful for the programs and services that CSET offers because they truly help the community be self-sufficient.

Everyone is capable of having an opportunity here, as long as they are on the right path or seeking guidance to better themselves."

Besides the festivities there were informational resources provided by Family HealthCare Network, CSET, Tulare County Health and Human Services, a dental provider, Kings Tulare Health and Wellness Service, and other local community agencies for health, wellness and other services.

Jerol Dutton, Assistant Director of Senior Services at CSET said he was excited to open the first of their Senior Centers since the beginning of the pandemic, "We are excited to provide meals, activities, social events and other resources for the seniors of Tulare County and especially Porterville."

Dutton remarked the Senior Center in Culter is opening on September 26.

Roberto Arce Guevara and his wife Maria Lara de Arce live at the Santa Fe Apartments like many of the seniors at the resource fair and celebration. They won prizes at the cakewalk and enjoyed themselves.

Wearing a bright pink shirt and clearly having a good time, Mary Lou Castillo, said she wears the bright pink color to stand out. She said, "I know so many people here," and went and greeted her friend Olympia Torres.

"I think this is a very wonderful informative and educational event about what is available for seniors in Porterville and all the surrounding areas. I need to know this information about home repairs and the wheelchair ramps. I didn't know there was a special program for them," Castillo said.

  The Senior Wellness Fairs are funded through a partnership with Kings/Tulare Area Agency on Aging, KT/AAA), and Tulare County Public Health.

Porterville Senior Center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call 782-4725.

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