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Posted on: February 12, 2020

Pennington Life Center: Programs and Services to Help Our Seniors

Lisa Erquiaga and Buster Pierce

Through its programming, the staff at the William N. Pennington Life Center offers seniors in our community the opportunity to stay physically, mentally and socially active and engaged throughout their lives.

Programming runs throughout the week and focuses on healthy living to meet the greatest need for seniors in our community: food, companionship and transportation.

Dining at the Life Center

Lunch is served weekdays at the Pennington Life Center dining room starting with soup being dished out at 11 a.m. At 11:30, the cafeteria-style kitchen opens and tables are called randomly by number for service of the pre-set menu for the day. Once a month, the kitchen hosts a birthday meal to celebrate everyone with a birthday that month.

Meals on Wheels

Using a cadre of volunteers, Meals on Wheels provides a hot meal five days a week to those who cannot leave their home for whatever reason. But it is not just a nutritious meal that is delivered, according to Buster Pierce who heads up the program.

“We offer a daily smile and a wellness check in addition to food to these folks in our community who may not have much other interaction with others,” he said.

The Churchill County Meals on Wheels program delivered more than 55,000 meals in 2019 which averages about 180-190 a day, Monday through Friday. Meals are prepared at the Life Center and then packaged for delivery by drivers who also check up on those clients. Leftover food from the week is frozen and packaged for weekend meals.

Meals are delivered to those who sign up and live within a 10-mile radius of the center.

Food programs are made possible through donations and grants from agencies such as the Nevada State Aging and Disabilities Services Division and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

Homemaker Service

The Life Center has five volunteers who provide light housekeeping duties for those who cannot do it for themselves.

“Between the Meals on Wheels and the homemaker service, our goal is to keep seniors living in their own homes for as long as possible,” said Lisa Erquiaga, Pennington Life Center’s director.

Exercise and Nutrition Classes

For more than 20 years, volunteer instructors have offered exercise classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Life Center through the “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” program that aims to build body strength through a series of movements done while standing or supported by a chair.

Through funding provided by the Cooperative Extension office in Las Vegas working through the University of Nevada, Reno, cost is kept at a minimum for participants. Currently, new instructors are being trained to provide more exercise offerings to clients.

“And we are starting a nutrition class soon in conjunction with the Stay Strong, Stay Healthy class,” Erquiaga said.

Diabetes, Driver’s Education Classes

Classes on managing diabetes are offered throughout the year are funded by Dignity Health in Las Vegas.

A driver’s education class geared for seniors is offered three times a year through the AARP and offers those who successfully complete it a discount on their car insurance. About 20 people can attend each class.

Senior Commodities

Through a partnership with the Northern Nevada Food Bank, the Life Center offers seniors access to meat, dairy and produce items from government surplus sources through a drive-thru pick-up system set up in its parking lot.

Food for Fur Friends

For seniors who have pets, the Life Center can provide food and spay and neuter services through generous donations from the local community and businesses.

CART

Churchill Area Regional Transportation offers seniors in our community rides to the store, local medical services and the like along with trips to Reno area medical offices twice a week.

Volunteers Key to Success of Programs

It takes a strong group of volunteers to keep so many programs functioning on an on-going basis.

“We are always looking for volunteers with stamina of all ages who can take direction and do what needs to be done,” said Erquiaga. In the dining room, that means serving the meals and cleaning up after them. 

If arts and crafts are more your strength, Erquiaga is always seeking those willing to teach a class for seniors to learn a new hobby or skill.

If you are looking to give back to your community and help those who may need an extra hand, please contact Erquiaga at the Pennington Life Center. The number is (775)423-7096. Call the same number for more information on any of the programs listed here.


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