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Lei down the recognition

Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center celebrates its volunteers, who contributed about 30,000 hours

Posted: August 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Dancers Luana Bosco-Shock, left, and Mahalia Leilani Brehm, right, who are also senior center volunteers, donated their performance to add to the festivities.

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There was a tropical flair in the air as the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in Newhall celebrated its volunteers with a luau on Aug. 7.

“We couldn’t send them to Hawaii, so I thought we could bring Hawaii to them,” said Robin Clough, the center’s director of volunteers and recreation.

The aloha spirit began with the distribution of special T-shirts made for the occasion.

According to Clough, the single hibiscus on the front recognized each volunteer’s unique and individual contribution, while a lei of flowers represented their collective service.

In 2010, center volunteers contributed approximately 30,000 hours of time.

“Volunteers are the backbone of who we are,” Clough said. “Because of their selfless dedication, we’re able to help seniors in our community.”

Hula dancers, Hawaiian shirts and skirts, ukulele music, tropical lemonade and a teriyaki barbecue catered by the Lions and Elks clubs, followed by a tropical feast prepared by the center, made for a festive time.

“I loved everyone’s costumes and the girls’ dancing,” said Christopher Robbin, of North Hills.

Every Friday, Robbin makes the trek to the Senior Center to entertain clients at lunchtime in the cafeteria. He plays piano and sings solo on Fridays, and also takes part in the center’s singing group, The Silvertones, on other occasions throughout the year.

“I just enjoy giving back,” Robbin said.

Why seniors?

“Because I am one. We definitely need to support and assist the elderly,” he said.

Mary Gallant, of Newhall, has been volunteering at the center for more than 10 years. She manages the monthly Senior Cinema program and serves on an advisory council.

Gallant gave the event high marks.

“It was wonderful, well-done and a lot of fun,” she said. “Volunteering at the center is a great way to make friends. It’s kind of hard in your senior years, the nucleus of friends gets smaller. You always have friends here.”

Sponsors, such as KHTS Radio, Dr. Gene Dorio, Barbara Stearns-Cochran, Dr. Greg Jenkins, Dr. Larry Leiter, Dave and Diane Hill, Tracy Hauser and Lockheed Federal Credit Union, helped with event expenses and contributed door prizes, while Mahalia Leilani Brehm and Luana Bosco-Shock donated the hula-dancing performance.

Volunteers Mary Rogers and Bernie Katz were crowned Hawaii’s Next Top Models during a fashion-show competition.

Katz has given his time to the center for the last six years, recently acting as captain of the Wii Bowling team. Before that, Katz would help set up tables in the cafeteria for regular events, but had to stop that activity because of illness.
“Now, I do whatever I can,” Katz said, his smile matching his bright blue eyes. “I love people and helping them. It makes me feel good.”

His wife, Dorothy Katz, is part of the center’s Needlecrafters, a group that knits items, such as hats, scarves and small blankets for donation to hospitals. Needlecrafters are now in the midst of launching a program to help U.S. military personnel and their families.

While she appreciated the ceremony, Katz said, “I would volunteer my time to the Senior Center without any recognition. I do it because I love it.”

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar was crowned Big Kahuna for his continued service, leadership and advocacy on behalf of seniors. Kellar and Greg Nutter, a Santa Clarita Committee on Aging board member, presented certificates to more than 150 volunteers.

The center’s Home Delivered Meals program coordinator, Zertihun Abdukadir, watched proudly as some of her volunteers received certificates.

“I love them. I don’t have the words to express what they mean to us. We run the Home Delivered Meals program on their power. They’re everything to us,” Abdukadir said.

The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center is located at 22900 Market St., Newhall. For more information, call (661) 259-9444 or visit www.scvsc.org.

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