RANCHO SANTA FE — The Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center, which was founded in 1998, first met in a donated space in the basement of the Rancho Santa Fe Library. Its membership grew and soon moved to its present site in 2002. Its location is in a beautiful house at 16780 La Garcia. It was designed by Lilian Rice, the “celebrity,” architect whose visions are demonstrated throughout the village.
The seniors held a fundraising campaign to pay for the house themselves, said Terrie Litwin, who has been executive director for the past six years.
She said like most nonprofit organizations, the programs and services are funded entirely by contributions from community residents and supporters.
Litwin, who has extensive experience as a clinical social worker in hospitals, said the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center has been a wonderful experience for her.
“I love it,” she said.
She said she especially likes being an advocate for the seniors.
“I enjoy providing good programs and we have a lot of resources and referrals for most issues with which they need help,” she said.
Indeed, just about one whole wall inside the office is filled with brochures outlining products and services for seniors.
There are also many stimulating programs for the members.
On a recent Monday, about 30 of them were deep into a music appreciation class taught by Randy Malin.
“We started out with plain chants,” Malin said. “Now we are in the Romantic Period, about 1810.”
On the very warm early fall day, the students were listening to the likes of composers Rossini, Beethoven, Paganini and Handel.
“There are 40 to 50 members who come for the programs and classes,” Litwin said. “They can come and go, and pick and choose any offering — music, art.”
In fact, there is much for the seniors to do. They can take a daily regular exercise class, take twice monthly French lessons, catch up with current events the last Friday of the month, have free blood pressure checks the last Thursday of the month, learn exercises to improve balance and prevent falls on Monday mornings, take oil painting classes, participate in writing workshops, and attend special events such as speakers who cover topics like dermatology, hearing loss and opportunities to get flu shots.
There is a special class also led by Malin titled “The United States and the Middle East,” a 12-week course which is a narrative history of the United States involvement in the Middle East.
Out back of the house is a shaded natural patio that is used for special events and gatherings. On Oct. 1 it was used for Strings in the Garden, an afternoon of music by Caprice Strings, a trio made up of violin, viola and cello.
The rest of the grounds are well-kept gardens with walking trails winding through and places to sit scattered throughout.
Cheryl Ford, assistant director, has been in her position for about 10 years.
“It’s been wonderful working with Terrie and meeting wonderful people,” Ford said.
Joan Voelz, a member, said going to the senior center is her most enjoyable activity in Rancho Santa Fe.
“I am 81 years old and do a lot of things, but the senior center has such varied programs. Right now I am in an art class. Tomorrow (as a part of Rancho Days), there will be Strings in the Garden. I’ll be going to that,” she said.
Voelz said that although she doesn’t need it, blood pressure checks are given as well as flu shots in October and there are many classes to take, like French. She said she would take it, but it meets the same time as her art class.
“You always feel welcome here,” she said. “They have a variety of programs and it is a place to meet one’s friends.”
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