Senior center provides social outlet

Living alone after the 2014 death of her mother, Dorothy Texidor found herself feeling isolated.

With two sons and three grandchildren living on the East Coast, and one daughter in Omaha, her social contact was limited. And she had retired 11 years earlier from the Kellogg Co. in Omaha to care for her elderly mother.

Texidor, now 76, craved companionship.

"It’s something I was missing in my life," she said.

That’s when, in 2015, she turned to Catholic Charities’ St. Martin de Porres Senior Center in north Omaha at the suggestion of a former co-worker who benefits from the center.

There, Texidor is part of "Sazzy Seniors," a group of regulars who come together several times a week for exercise, games, arts and crafts, education, meals and conversation.

"It got me out of the house and helped me make new friends," she said. "We have lots of laughs together."

Texidor spent 22 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve and worked more than 27 years at Kellogg’s, the last nine of which were in the warehouse, where she was accustomed to meeting and talking with many people. Now the center is her primary outlet for activity and social contact.

The senior center, one of many ministries supported by the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, has about 100 members, with 20 to 25 spending time at the center any given Monday, Wednesday or Friday, said Christine Merrell, senior services coordinator.

"Most of our seniors are from around this area," she said, "but some come from west or northwest Omaha because they grew up in this area and so they are connected to the area."

Through information and activities, the center focuses on five key elements – health, education, personal development, community involvement and finance, Merrell said.

Information programs include health and wellness, tax and finance, safety and other topics, she said. Recreational activities on Tuesdays include outings to museums, movies, shopping, restaurants and other points of interest around the community.

And members take an active role in operating the center, cooking meals, and helping with games, activities and service projects. Texidor routinely helps with meals and launders the dish cloths and dish towels.

Some members help with Thursday bingo games at the nearby Evans Tower senior residence, or work in the center’s vegetable garden during the growing season.

And they recently crocheted stocking caps for clients of the adjoining St. Martin de Porres food pantry, Merrell said.

"We’re providing a safe place to be, a connection, and a purpose that empowers them," she said. "It’s the air under their wings to help them give back."

Texidor said she is grateful the center is near her home, easily accessible and inexpensive, with a $15 monthly membership fee. "I’m not wealthy, so it fits in my budget. And, they treat me with a lot of respect here."

Her story and that of the senior center were featured in a video promoting this year’s Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.

"This center is important to the community, and important for participants to have a place to go that’s safe," Texidor said. "During the day, we need to have something to do and to be active. Here we can do that."

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