Attending her first state Area Agency on Aging meeting, incoming LARSO Executive Director Jacci Gruninger accepts a plaque on behalf of LARSO from Neil Segotta of the Area Agency on Aging and the Aging and Long Term Services Department, marking 25 years of service. Gruninger begins her new position on June 1. Courtesy/LARSO
By BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
As the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization (LARSO) and Betty Ehart Senior Center close out a 5-month long celebration, each celebrating 25 years in 2023, some great stories need to be shared about the events.
First, a huge thanks to the Los Alamos County Council and Julie Williams-Hill, who created proclamations for both the 25th anniversary of LARSO and the 25th anniversary of the actual Betty Ehart Senior Center.
LARSO, which is the non-profit that runs both the Los Alamos and White Rock senior centers, took place in January with a very special request, a new table for the conference room. This request was made of Richard Ronquillo of Rich Welding, LLC, as a gift for the center to mark the occasions ahead.
“I am a 3rd generation metal fabricator by trade and had never combined a project with wood,” Ronquillo said. “I thought of the table as a challenge and opportunity. A wonderful collaboration of ideas from Bernadette, myself and a phenomenal cabinet/furniture maker friend, Fred Romero (Creative Woods) of Espanola.”
The table top is of cabinet grade pine, 40” wide, 96” long and 1.5” thick. The metal frame work and silhouette legged base were fabricated in his shop and the legs were programmed and cut on a CNC plasma table, Ronquillo said.
“This project and many, many others could not have been possible without the amazing help of Lloyd Martinez and Dan Smith,” Ronquillo said.
Ronquillo has always worked with several types of metal, in several forms. During his career, he has machined, forged and cast metal. He started by welding and repairing for neighbors and friends and still enjoys it after 35 years. “When it becomes a job I’m done,” he said.
Next, LARSO embarked on a new logo for the center, another change to update things after 25 years. After a long process, a piece was designed by local artist Fran Stovall. While most recently highlighted in the June newsletter and made into our current stationary, we are excited to see where we will take it. Fran received a $250 prize from the LARSO Board of Directors for her entry.
“Being chosen as the winner is truly an honor,” Stovall said. “It allows me to leave a part of myself behind in this wonderful town that I have grown to love so much. I am grateful for the chance to contribute something meaningful and express my appreciation for the community that has supported me during a challenging time. Thank you for this incredible opportunity to showcase my passion for graphic arts and make a lasting impact.”
Finally, May the 1st kicked off Older Americans Month with a birthday celebration, complete with cake(s) and prizes furnished by the Friends of the Senior Center (FOSC). White Rock Senior Center Coordinator Gabriel Vigil baked Betty’s official cake, a beautiful carrot cake, both inside and out.
Later in the month, new LARSO Executive Director Jacci Gruninger went to her first state Area Agency on Aging meeting. She attended the meeting with LARSO Treasurer John Baillie and Secretary Don Gerheart. Baillie is vice president of the State Advisory Council, and Gerheart his designee. Much to their surprise, the AAA (often called the triple A) and the Aging and Long-Term Services Department honored LARSO with a cake and beautiful proclamation.
View of the table being delivered that Richard Ronquillo created for the conference room at the Betty Ehart Senior Center as a gift to mark the 25th anniversary of the center and LARSO. Courtesy/LARSO