By Pamela Austin
There are two senior centers in the City of Alexandria operated by the Department of Community and Human Services’ Division of Aging and Adult Services, both of which had to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Martin de Porres Senior Center and the senior center at the Charles Houston Recreation Center offer independent seniors the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities, including exercise, creative activities, field trips, music, computer classes, English as a second language, cultural activities, intergenerational activities, celebrations and some that are just fun.
Center participants also enjoy nutritious meals and spend time making friends and socializing. The centers are for individuals age 60 or older. Free transportation is provided to the centers through the Alexandria Division of Aging and Adult Services’ Special Transportation Unit.
We are pleased to announce the reopening of St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, located on the west side of Alexandria. This Catholic community welcomes all residents from the City of Alexandria, regardless of race, religion, language, national origin or culture.
“Many provisions were put in place for a safe return of all participants including new renovations. Everyone wears masks and follows social distancing protocols. The center is brighter with new paint and lights, rooms have been expanded and soundproofed,” Anne T. Coyne, St. Martin de Porres Senior Center program director, said.
In the first week of reopening, the center averaged 18 older adults each day.
“They arrived by foot, bus or car. Seniors were happy to return and see their friends,” Coyne stated. “The seniors freely shared their experiences of loneliness, social isolation and how challenging the pandemic was on their families. We had a beautiful tribute from a senior so thankful for all [St. Martin de Porres] and the city did to help them during the challenging times.”
The center is having a tree planting ceremony in honor of the 11 seniors lost during the pandemic and is assisting those who are interested in getting the COVID-19 booster vaccine. St. Martin de Porres Senior Center is working closely with the Alexandria Health Department’s ALX Promise Gold Team to continually assess their COVID-19 safe return procedures.
Attendance is limited to 20 participants daily. Center staff are eager to extend services to new clients but must do so gradually. The program is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. If you’d like more information about the center please visit their website at www.ccda.net or contact the center at 703-751-2766.
Unfortunately, the senior center at Charles Houston, located inside the Charles Houston Recreation Center, 901 Wythe St., remains closed and its reopening is under development. For further information regarding programs for older adults call the Division of Aging and Adult Services at 703-746-5999, email DAAS@alexandriava.gov or visit our website.
The writer is aging and disability resource coordinator for the City of Alexandria’s Department of Community & Human Services Division of Aging & Adult Services.