Magazine

Los Altos Senior Center boosts programming


Ramya Krishna/Town Crier
Cherie Anderson, recreation specialist for the city of Los Altos, works with George Kronos on a jigsaw puzzle at the Los Altos Senior Center.

The newest face at the Los Altos Senior Center has become a familiar one to those who frequent the gathering spot.

Cheri Anderson joined the city in October as the Senior Center’s interim coordinator and recently transitioned to recreation specialist. In her new role, Anderson said she will "specialize in all areas that are needed in recreation" - primarily those at the center.

Offering programs for those 50 and over, the Senior Center serves hundreds of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills residents. Staffers organize day trips (to museums, restaurants and places like San Francisco), classes (from line dancing to emergency preparedness) and an array of activities (movie screenings, mahjong sessions, luncheons and even piano lessons). Programs are offered at the center’s home base, Hillview Community Center, and across town at the Grant Park facility.

Anderson has already added to the list of activities and spruced up the place.

"I was given the opportunity to add a bit of change to the center in programming, in marketing," she said. "So what I did is, I created - with the help of staff - new classes, new activities and remodeled, in a sense, the center by way of adding more colorful items like a garden outside the center."

Anderson also placed a colorful banner in front of the center and changed the orientation of the furniture to make the main room better suited for conversation.

She has other ideas as well.

"My specialty is going to be in creating a fitness program for seniors," said Anderson, adding that she aims to attract a younger population of seniors to the center.

Senior Center coordinator Candace Avina spoke highly of the woman who replaced her while she was on maternity leave. She said Anderson "has an enthusiasm and knowledge of what the population is looking for that will help to make her programs successful. … She’s aware of all aspects of what creating a program entails."

Avina added that Anderson "has lots of ideas" and "knows how to implement them."

One example of that is the introduction of pickleball, a lively racket sport proving to be a popular part of the program.

"Already, we have new members and people enjoying both the social and physical aspects of the game," Avina said.

Anderson said the most rewarding aspect of being part of the Los Altos Senior Center is "creating an environment that is vibrant - that people go and say, Oh, I like that. I’m going to go there again."

Seeing the smiles on the seniors' faces when they have come in and enjoyed an activity brings Anderson great joy.

In addition to working at the Senior Center, Anderson keeps busy as a professional jazz singer, a music director at her church and an "avid bike rider," she said.

The Los Altos Senior Center is located at 97 Hillview Ave. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. The Grant Park Senior Drop-in Program is located at 1575 Holt Ave. For more information, call 947-2797 or visit losaltosca.gov/recreation/page/senior-program. ◆

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