CSET Plans to Reopen Two Senior Centers
Last updated 9/8/2022 at 4:07pm | View PDF
After 30 months of being closed due to the pandemic, two of the eight senior centers managed by CSET will finally be reopening, marked by separate welcome-back events that reintroduce what's available at the centers.
The Porterville Senior Center will reopen on Saturday, Sept. 17, with an open house that organizers say will reintroduce the meals and programming seniors were accustomed to attending.
A similar event will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, at Ledbetter Park where the Cutler-Orosi Senior Center is located. Both events will run from 9 a.m. to noon.
"Having closed due to the pandemic, all of our operations went to front door delivery (of meals)," said Raquel Gomez, division director of community initiatives for CSET. "We lost staff to COVID. We've also had to come up with our own guidance. What we got from the Centers for Disease Control wasn't enough."
Gomez added that one of the biggest challenges with reopening is staffing, saying that senior center managers were shifted from managing the centers to delivering meals to homes. Today, in order to reopen, five of the senior centers will need to hire new managers.
"We are working to come up with processes that are safe. It has taken some time. We just drafted our reopening procedures," Gomez said, adding the plan has been run past the Tulare County Health Department for review and recommendations.
Seniors attending the centers before the pandemic shutdown were all added to CSET's home meal delivery program. Part of the difficulty in reopening are the logistics of transitioning seniors back to getting meals at the senior center. Those who get their meals at the center would no longer have meal delivery to their homes.
"That's been a huge piece of the discussion," Gomez said, explaining that with limited staff it would be difficult to dedicate someone to be at the senior center when that same person could be helping deliver meals. "We have over 1,000 people being delivered meals now, not including 350 that are unable to walk to a senior center that is on the Meals on Wheels program," she said.
Nonetheless, seniors attending either of the two open houses will be reintroduced to services and programming offered at the centers and in general by CSET.
"We will have information about the Energy Assistance program as well as about the 'Lock Your Meds' program," said Angel Avitia, CSET's director of community initiatives. Seniors will also enjoy other festivities.
"There will also be music, cake walks and raffles," said Jerel Dutton, assistant director for senior services. "We want seniors and their families to come enjoy these events."
"Similar open houses will be held at each senior center as they reopen," said Gomez. "It will make (seniors) more at ease when they come back. It's like the first day of school for them."
The Porterville Senior Center is located at 280 N. 4th St. in Porterville. The Cutler-Orosi Senior Center is located at 12691 Avenue 408 in Cutler. For more information, call CSET at 800-321-2462