By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer

The Los Alamos Valley Senior Center is a gem that is apparently hiding in plain sight.

“Our biggest problem is getting the word out to the community that we are here and there is a lot happening at the center, not only for seniors, but the community at large. We need people to join the center. We need new members,” said Sandee Adams, a board member who has been a volunteer at the center for 30 years.

“For some strange reason, people don’t seem to know we’re here or what we offer to the community. We’ve tried everything possible to let people know, posting flyers at the post office and on Facebook about what’s happening at the center, but people seem to be under the impression that it’s just for old folks.”

“It’s not just a center for seniors, it’s here for the entire community, and we would love to see more Los Alamos residents make use of the facility and what we have to offer,” said Kathy Christoferson, past president and a volunteer.

The Los Alamos Valley Senior Center is an all-volunteer nonprofit community group. It was the dream of Marie Steen, who set up a trust for the center along with Anita Robbins, who helped organize the fundraising efforts, which took several years, and Shirley English, who wrote the grant applications for the center.

The center broke ground on May 12, 1989, and a dedication ceremony inside the 3,200-square-foot center was held on April 29, 1990.

The center offers a painting group for beginners or seasoned artists on Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. If you want to acquire some expert knowledge from seasoned artists, the volunteers are there to help.

There’s a sewing, quilting and crafting gathering on Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. Bring what you are working on and join the group, or if you need help with a project there are people there who can help.

There’s a Women’s Bible Study Class on Thursday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; Friday night movies once a month; Spanish classes from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays through April; and pot-luck dinners with bingo on the last Thursday of every month, where visitors can socialize with friends and neighbors.

The center also offers a Bingo and Silent Auction fundraiser on March 15 and October 16t; a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner on March 17, a town-wide Garage Sale and Pancake Breakfast on May 18; a rummage sale on Aug. 10-11, a Chicken Poop Bingo during Old Days on Sept. 27; two quilting retreats a year, a Christmas Dinner, and a “When You Wish Upon A Star” Christmas Party in conjunction with the Men’s Club, to name a few.

The center is trying to raise community interest in establishing craft classes, sewing, knitting and crochet classes (young people are urged to come and learn), yoga and tai chi classes, and field trips to various places of interest and, tentatively, a Fathers’ Day Breakfast and a Mother’s Day Tea.

“If you have any specific areas of interest that you would like to see the Senior Center provide, please let us know. We are open to all suggestions,” said Adams.

 “We want this facility to be used more,” said Christoferson.

The Los Alamos Senior Center is also a “Designated Emergency Shelter” and lends out wheelchairs, medical equipment such as walkers, canes and crutches to those in need of assistance. They also rent out the facility for parties and meetings with full kitchen facilities.

The center also houses a small library and information center, a canned food section, and a sitting area with a huge flat screen television and a full kitchen. The center also acts as a produce distribution center for those in need of fresh fruit and vegetables on the second Wednesday of every month from 3 to 4 p.m.

“The center welcomes all valley residents to join in the variety of events that are happening all year long. We are an outreach to the community,” said Christoferson. “There are people who really need this place and we just want them to know it’s here for them.”

The center recently did a search for funding to hire a part-time director to do office work, oversee the running of the facility and, most importantly, to write grants.

“We are all volunteers at the center and sometimes it just gets too much for us to handle,” said Christoferson. “Having an administrative director would be a great help.”

“There is a lot of love in this place and we want to share that with the community,” she added.

The Los Alamos Valley Senior Center is at 690 Bell St. Yearly membership for people 50 years or older is $15, but you don’t have to be a member to join in the numerous activities.

For more information, call Sheryl Woods, president of The Los Alamos Valley Senior and Community Center, at 805-344-4561, email or follow them on Facebook.