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Seniors get out and about

Community: SCV Senior Center’s Trips & Tours program coordinates excursions

Posted: April 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 18, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Rose Romeka, left, and Dolores Baron have taken advantage of trips to casinos, local museums, special events and other destinations organized by the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center’s Trips & Tours desk at the center in Newhall.

Whether it’s a day trip or an extended tour, local seniors and their families have a nearly endless variety of travel options through the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center’s Trips & Tours program.

“You don’t have to be a member of the center or a senior to join us on a trip,” said volunteer Jill Bondy, who heads the Trips & Tours committee. “With the exception of casinos, which are 21 and over, children and grandchildren are invited, too. Our trips are family-friendly and reasonably priced.”

Day trips start at $15 and top out around $80, while longer trips can cost up to $850. Travelers register with Trips & Tours over the phone or in person at the center in advance with a small deposit; full payment is due prior to the trip.

Acting as an independent travel agency, the all-volunteer committee plans dozens of trips every year. The committee is composed of Bondy, Lillian Williams, Bob Hill, Joan Lust, Carmen Cuadros, Jo Molano, Linda Crawford, Esther Bainbridge, Carole Montgomery, Mona Loth, Shirley Laurino, Connie Trushesky, Margie McKenna, Evie Leslie and Lorna Ostrofsky

Outings to Laughlin and Las Vegas are among the most popular.

“We like to gamble,” said Williams.

There are also shorter excursions to downtown Los Angeles, The Grove in Orange County, Santa Monica Beach and the Japanese Gardens in Balboa Park, which are enhanced by the group experience, according to Bondy.

“We have a buddy system. No one gets lost. They’re not alone in a strange place,” she said.

Travelers ride on an air-conditioned bus. If trips are more than 90 minutes, there’s a restroom on board. Bottled water is available, as well.

“Everyone’s comfort is very important to us,” Bondy said.

Most Trips & Tours buses can accommodate walkers, wheelchairs and oxygen tanks, offering mobility to seniors who wouldn’t normally be able to travel.

“We just ask that a caregiver accompany them,” Bondy said.

Each trip is accompanied by at least two tour guides — adding to the fun, as well as the safety factor.

“We take care of everyone and are on hand to answer questions. At the end of each trip, we count heads and make sure everyone makes it back to the bus,” Bondy said.

According to Hill, who’s volunteered with the group for 15 years, and frequently enjoys its outings, camaraderie is a key component of Trips & Tours’ success.

“Seniors really enjoy getting together. A lot of friendships are made during these trips,” he said.

Trips & Tours can be a great outlet for new seniors in the community to make friends, as Lust illustrated.

“People will tell me, ‘But I don’t know anyone that’s going.’ I tell them, ‘You will by the time we’re done,’” Lust said.

For more information on Trips & Tours, call (661) 259-9444 or visit the Trips & Tours desk at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, 22900 Market St., Newhall.


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