Life After 50: The Gift Of 2020

From left, Bailey Martinez, Bernadette Lauritzen and Marie Vigil, from the Youth Activity Center delivering chocolates to senior center staff in December. Photo by Gabe Vigil

Executive Director

Los Alamos Retired & Senior Organization

I’m sure the first thought is that 2020 was no gift at all, but I beg to differ.

You see, as the director of the local senior centers, we were often in a pickle, throughout the last 10 months, this Wednesday, the 13th. The gifts that kept giving, can never be repaid by myself or my staff.

It started with asking for toilet paper, when the pandemic began, and has continued until this very day. I was thankful for hard to come by items, and it grew into a little bit of everything. No one would have believed that we’d need dog food, kitty litter and cleaning supplies, for so many months. No one would know so many would need help.

Then came the gifts of painted rocks, art from children, and hand made stationary. The next items to arrive were cards written to those struggling, new books, magazines, colored pencils, and so much more.

People donated gluten free items, brand new medical equipment and things that seemed to arrive, just before the request came in to us.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory donated shelf stable foods for our Home Delivered Meal recipients. The Elks Club donated items to entertain, and food to sustain. Students from LAHS held a food drive and donated handwritten cards. The Los Alamos Historical Society donated books for those on Home Delivered Meals, with a few left over to boost the spirts of others.

The holidays were ushered in, what could we do to help? Who knew we would still be in this mess? Kay Burick, Louise Hassman, and Linda Hoffman and others, made sure the annual Festival of Trees still took place. While, an on-line fundraiser was not successful, a few people acquired some great buys and now we’re ahead for 2021. Then community gift giving, allowed us to hand deliver holiday joy to 36 local seniors. My favorite story was of a senior that saw the bag contained gifts, placing it under the tree, for Christmas Day.

The celebration of 90th birthdays was bolstered by community partners. Las Soleras of Santa Fe, Ambercare and Egis Home Care (sp?) helped make the day of some nonagenarians. Their kindness and that of community members, allowed us to create gifts that included candies, treats, many hand written cards, lotions, soaps, teas, cocoas, and a variety of other things. Our annual event held the love of caring we intended, even if we couldn’t gather.

So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You allow my staff and I, to be the hands, of your generosity. It doesn’t matter if it was toilet paper or bringing someone nice dog treats, for their best friend. Our Senior Services donation fund allowed us to put someone in a hotel on a snowy night, buy medication for someone that would go without and deliver milkshakes to a member and their caregiver, when they can’t go out on their own. #LoveLosAlamos

Teachers drop off cards form their students to brighten the day of many seniors. Photo by Gabe Vigil