Center seeks new image

By Emily Crowe
CNJ STAFF WRITER
ecrowe@cnjonline.com
Senior citizens in Clovis are as active as ever, and Brenda Hankins wants the community to know it.
Hankins, program coordinator at Baxter-Curren Senior Center for 13 years, said she would like to change the conception that the city’s senior centers are just for old people with nothing better to do.
“So many people think of a senior citizen as a little lady in a wheelchair somewhere that needs attention,” she said. “That’s not what I have here.”
Seniors at Baxter-Curren participate in everything from line dancing to pinochle and social nights complete with dominoes and a pot-luck meal.
“We’re trying now to look at it as a 50-plus activity center,” Hankins said. “I have active seniors. They’re not just sitting waiting until the bus picks them up again.”
Hankins said Baxter-Curren, which is run by the city, is also geared toward combating the loneliness that many seniors can fall prey to.
“If you’re at home and you’re watching TV, it’s not real contact, it’s not human-to-human,” she said. “It’s good that they have a place where they can come feel important.”
Friendship Senior Center, also run by the city, offers crafts, 8-ball pool, blood pressure checks, bingo, ceramics and card games.
In addition, La Casa Senior centers are located in Clovis and Portales and have daily activities, as well as bingo, sewing class, coffee and socializing, and massage therapy chairs.
Vicki Miller, director of the city’s Older Adults Division since 2007, says her favorite part of her work is the seniors she gets to interact with.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and I enjoy every one of them that comes in,” she said.
Miller said an upcoming activity in the community is the Old Timers Lunch, which is held annually during the Curry County Fair and caters to area citizens 50 and over.
“The VFW serves the seniors the meal at the fairgrounds and the Curry County Outlaws will play,” she said.
Nursing homes will also be on hand at the luncheon to promote senior citizen health and wellness.
Hankins and Miller agree that line dancing is one of the favorite activities among the older adults who spend time at the senior centers.
“I have dancers out here that hit the first song of the night, then they dance for three hours,” Hankins said. “They’re a remarkable group of people.”
“We just want to let the public know that we’re here,” Miller said. “If you have things that you want to do in our centers that we don’t have, then we can try to look for it.”