South County Beat: Volunteers keep senior center moving

The Central Coast Senior Center in Oceano is a lively place where seniors can participate in a variety of activities. These include woodworking, line dancing, yoga, art, pinochle, bingo, bunco and exercise for people with arthritis and other conditions.

Moreover, there is bridge, laughter yoga and a nutritious lunch five days a week at 11:30 a.m. prepared by the Senior Nutrition Program for a small donation or free to those who can’t pay.

Pearl Cole of Arroyo Grande, president of the nonprofit organization that runs the center, is a charter member and has volunteered at the center since it was built 20 years ago.

“Volunteering is the thing that keeps this place moving,” she said.

The desk volunteers are “priceless people, people of goodwill,” Pearl continued.

Frank Williams, a retired aircraft worker from Los Angeles, now of Oceano, is one of those people. He volunteers two afternoons a week.

Board member Corky Cota teaches line dancing four times a week with amazing energy. She has been teaching since she retired from Lucia Mar Unified School District food service 20 years ago.

Corky, 82, volunteers to do some of the cleaning, checks daily on the center and works the Food Bank three times a month.

Betty Milne, outgoing president of the board and manager for six years, is an Arroyo Grande native. She began at the center seven years ago when a friend enticed her to play pinochle, after retiring from a 30-year career as a rural mail carrier.

When Betty got involved, she spruced the place up, repainting it and replacing windows. She recently brightened up the outside by having the doors painted turquoise.

Betty pointed out that there are several services for seniors besides the above-mentioned classes, including informational speakers on such topics as Medicare, AARP and local hospital information.

An attorney volunteers at the center once a month, meeting with seniors who have questions on any legal topics. People can call the center to make a free half-hour appointment.

Free health screenings take place every other month on Wednesday mornings. The Food Bank comes three times a month on the first, second and fourth Thursdays monthly at 9 a.m. to distribute free food.

One fun activity each year has been the fashion show, which took place June 11. Mary Williams has participated each year, modeling clothes from Rosa’s Boutique in Pismo Beach.

A barbecue is upcoming July 9 at 1 p.m. Tri-tip, beans, bread and salad will be served. There will be an auction. Tickets are $8 and must be purchased before Monday.

There will also be a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s in Arroyo Grande July 30. These fundraisers will bring in funds to the center.

Betty would like to see some ongoing fundraising “to keep funds coming into the center on a (more) regular basis and would like to appeal to younger retirees.”

“We need someone with new, exciting ideas with a little piss and vinegar!” she said.

To learn more about activities at the center or to volunteer, call 481-7886, or drop by at 1580 Railroad St. in Oceano, one block south of the Rock & Roll Diner.

Gayle Cuddy’s column appears every other week. Anyone with story ideas
 involving interesting people in the South County can reach her at 489-1026 or nightengayles@aol.com.