Tribute is smaller, but seniors made to feel valued

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 5, 2012 

There were new products and services, food, chitchat and bingo, too.

The 28th annual Salute to Seniors fair last week attracted 300 people looking for knowledge and a chance to socialize.

"I'd like to see 400-450, like we used to have, but I'm encouraged. People are having a good time," said Gloria Mendonca, who organizes many community events for senior citizens in Los Banos.

"This makes them understand what the county and the city have, and if you don't get out and see these fliers you don't know."

Mendonca said Los Banos provides more medical services now than ever before in the city's history.

Services related to home care, gadgets such as phones customized for the hearing-impaired, and information on medical services, hospices and rehabilitation were available. But, most of all, the event allowed the over-60 crowd to get together and mingle with peers.

"We like to see all the old-timers. We missed last year because we were out of town, but we're glad to be back," said Mary Bretz.

"We enjoy meeting people and talking to people."

Madeline Pereira said she has attended the fair since its inception, but hasn't been able to recently because she was caring for her ailing spouse. She said although she greatly misses her husband, who died in March, she enjoyed the Salute to Seniors event immensely.

The six-hour event was held at the Los Banos Community Center and featured a lunch and bingo.

City and county officials honored seniors during a short ceremony and Norma Sheppard, Josie Bosworth, Ruby Cooper and Linda and Danny Galindez were given individual accolades for their volunteer work.

Rick Dahlgren, the former director of Parks and Recreation who started Salute to Seniors in Los Banos, praised seniors for all they do.

"I just wanted to talk a little bit about how we're role models for our community and how we give our talents and expertise," he said.

Dahlgren talked about senior volunteer efforts, from assisting the Police Department to organizing food drives. He also made his speech interactive, asking the audience to chime in with the word "we" before describing each charitable act.

Paul Cardoza, Parks and Recreation operations manager, said the Salute to Seniors fair included a group bused in from Merced.

"There is a neat group of seniors who come here and like to do this once a year," Cardoza said. "It's kind of a Merced County/Los Banos thing.

"Seniors like to be recognized, and they should. It's the respect of the community."

Enterprise staff writer Corey Pride can be reached at 388-6563 or cpride@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise staff writer Corey Pride can be reached at 388-6563 or cpride@losbanos enterprise.com

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