Senior Centers Struggling Under Burden Of Pandemic

Executive Director

The Los Alamos and White Rock senior center is beginning to struggle, under the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local donations are helping but more are needed to fill the need of local seniors.

The RPEA, (Retired Public Employees Association) generally holds its annual meeting at the Betty Ehart Senior Center, but this year it didn’t take place. The RPEA annual donation to the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization (LARSO) still found its way to help out the center with $1,000 as the centers continue to meet a variety of needs.

“My late husband and I were members for as long as there has been a chapter here,” RPEA Chapter President Kay Reiswig said. “I got actively involved volunteering to be on the board after he died because it is very important that we keep abreast of what is happening with CalPers, the source of our pensions. That includes Lab employees, teachers, police, postal employees, anyone who is retired, employed by any public local, state or national business.”

Reiswig knows the centers not only serve more than 3,000 meals a month, but that food service is the most important thing the senior centers provide. She equally knows that while it keeps the bulk of the staff employed, the pandemic has greatly increased the cost of food service supplies. The serving trays alone required as a food safety item have caused the greatest cost to the centers during the pandemic.

“During this COVID crisis the centers have been especially helpful not only providing meals as usual, but helping with grocery shopping, pharmacy pickups and postal help,” Reiswig said. “I don’t know what some of us would have done without the efficient and great staff at the centers. RPEA has long donated to LARSO for all of the services it provides.”

RPEA can be assured that donations are used to offset a variety of costs not covered by county and state contracts. This year the centers also are sending out additional food supplies for home bound seniors related to pandemic and weather concerns.

RPEA continued its generosity outside of Los Alamos by making an additional donation to the Food Depot is Santa Fe.

“We are giving $500 to them because they serve northern New Mexico, which has been hit hard by the COVID crisis,” Reiswig said. “Northern New Mexico is always economically depressed but with COVID layoffs it is much worse. RPEA feels strongly that we should help when and where we can.”

Donations to LARSO can be sent to 1101 Bathtub Row in Los Alamos. The Food Depot is at 1222 A Siler Road in Santa Fe, NM 87507. Those wishing to donate food items directly should contact each location.

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