CARLSBAD — Seniors, city staff and four council members took part in the reopening of the Carlsbad Senior Center on July 6, nearly 16 months after it was last open.
The center is the last city facility to reopen due to the shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the center will offer hybrid programming with some programs remaining virtual, according to Councilwoman Teresa Acosta.
The ribbon-cutting saw Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Lancaster describing the facility as a gathering place for many seniors, noting programming is back and space can once again be activated.
“It’s time to be in-person again,” he said. “This is just a modest reopening.”
The city, led by the Parks and Recreation Department, had to act fast in March 2020 in dealing with the pandemic. Many seniors visit the center not just for the programs, but for lunch.
The city coordinated and delivered more than 61,000 meals to seniors during the center’s shutdown, Councilwoman Cori Schumacher said.
The city partnered with numerous volunteers to help deliver the food including farmer Jimmy Ukegawa, who owns the Carlsbad Strawberry Company, to provide fresh fruit.
Mike Pacheco, Carlsbad’s recreation services manager, said in a previous interview at its height the senior center was delivering to 400 people per week. By December, it went down to 200 recipients, but he said the quality of produce and fruits provided many seniors with some of the healthiest food they’ve had in a long time.
Also, the intergenerational facility opened as well, which is a hub for the city’s youth and helps bring seniors and the youngsters together, said Councilwoman Priya Bhat Patel. She also noted the Carlsbad Fire Department took the lead on helping seniors get vaccinated as some are unable to leave their homes for various reasons.
“This took a lot of work,” Acosta said. “We have a robust menu of programs and people are excited about getting back.”
For Rick Saldivar, the 72-year-old resident attended the ceremony and was his first time at the senior center. He said he connected with the center while it was closed to play Bingo with his wife online, while also receiving the center’s Seaside Insider magazine for updates.
It created a comfort level, he said, so he decided to check out the facility and its programs. He said the garden club, ping pong and Bingo caught his eye.
“When I heard it was opening, I decided to come down and check it out,” Saldivar said. “They were talking about it online and encouraging us to check it out.”