OMI Senior Center Supports, Serves, and Honors our Forbearers
November 5, 2021
Seventy-two-year-old Meilin sits at her kitchen table with her laptop, describing to a captive screen audience the special story of how she met her spouse. Meilin is attending “Chat with Tiffany!” – an online, weekly informational and support group at Catholic Charities OMI Senior Center. In this virtual, intimate space, she and a group of 15 other seniors bask in the warmth of communal gathering.
“Everyone was so interested in each other’s stories – you could hear a pin drop!” says OMI Program Director, Liz Rodriguez. The weekly group, as well as the OMI Senior Center at large, is one of the many ways Catholic Charities supports our seniors across the city to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
Tiffany Huynh, the program’s Activities Coordinator for 15 years, cultivates an enriching, friendly environment that keeps clients’ minds active and engaged. Here, seniors have a chance not only to share personal experiences, but also to discuss current events – topics such as the circulating scams aimed at seniors, up-to-date information about COVID, and stimulus checks criteria. Other virtual classes offered by the Center include exercise classes, community presentations, nutrition information sessions, and presentations from attorneys to help them navigate legal challenges.
Hands down, one of the most popular weekly virtual activities is “Cooking with Andy & Tiffany!,” which began in response to clients’ unfamiliarity with food pantry items they received at the start of the pandemic. With his culinary talent and screen charisma, Senior Center Program/Activities Assistant, Andy Tien, infallibly brings out laughter and engagement from the group while he and Tiffany create and explain the dishes in Cantonese – the native language of most of the seniors in the program – as well as in English. Now, clients enjoy learning about new foods and how to prepare them. The seniors’ affection and appreciation for Andy and Tiffany are more than apparent: last week, two long-term senior clients gifted them with brand new chef’s coats!
With lively activities and a steadfastly dedicated, culturally sensitive staff, the OMI Senior Center is a much-needed haven where seniors can relieve loneliness and experience communal belonging. Through these efforts, we enact our mission to serve and honor seniors like Meilin and her group members, whose lifelong hard work, strength, and wisdom have infused our city with the quintessential richness it embodies.