Community forms Thanksgiving family for seniors

By Nikolas Samuels

Last update: Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Twelve pitted hams. Thirty-two boneless turkey breasts. Sides from seven different gourmet restaurants. Three-hundred people served and 250 home deliveries made.

This is what the Castaic Lions Club and William S. Hart Union School District worked countless hours to prepare in honor of the 35th annual Senior Center Thanksgiving Day Feast and Party.

“As much as they love the meal, they love the kids more,” said Flo Lawrence of the Castaic Lions Club, who organized the event. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Representatives from every school in the Hart School District volunteered, totaling at least 200 kids. The kids were not just serving the seniors food and coffee though.

They created a true Thanksgiving experience by filling the role of grandchildren for a day, talking to and learning from the seniors’ lives.

“Beyond the classroom walls, our students are learning real life history,” said Bill Bolde, the principal of Saugus High School.

One such student was 15-year-old Alyssa Arce, a sophomore at Saugus High School. This was her first year volunteering after her friends told her about how much they enjoyed it last year and her favorite part was hearing the seniors’ stories.

“One lady worked in the school district for 53 years,” recalled Arce. “She started teaching when she was 18.”

Hart High School student Aspen Sorenson serves seniors at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center during 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/the Signal
Hart High School student Aspen Sorenson serves seniors at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center during 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The senior center Thanksgiving involved a lot more family than honorary grandchildren though. Many seniors have spent more than a decade participating at the senior center, and the people there have become family to them as well.

“I like it because the older we get, it’s harder to make friends,” said 81-year-old Roanna Woerter who attended the senior center Thanksgiving with her husband for ten years.

Coming year after year to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t uncommon at the senior center. The friendship and sense of community continues to bring them back, such as is the case with Art Tazio.

Tazio celebrated every Thanksgiving at the senior center since 1998 and when asked how long he plans on continuing the tradition, he said, “’Til I croak.”

He lives alone but that doesn’t mean he is alone. He has his family at the senior center, and every Thanksgiving, they are there for him.

Castaic Lions Club Event Chair Flo Lawrence, left, welcomes 270 seniors to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center for the 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/the Signal
Castaic Lions Club Event Chair Flo Lawrence, left, welcomes 270 seniors to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center for the 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Community forms Thanksgiving family for seniors

Seniors Rudy Pavini, left and Tommie Ward chat with Saugus High School students from left, Amanda Arce, Veronica Johnson and Lauren Henderson at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center during the 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Twelve pitted hams. Thirty-two boneless turkey breasts. Sides from seven different gourmet restaurants. Three-hundred people served and 250 home deliveries made.

This is what the Castaic Lions Club and William S. Hart Union School District worked countless hours to prepare in honor of the 35th annual Senior Center Thanksgiving Day Feast and Party.

“As much as they love the meal, they love the kids more,” said Flo Lawrence of the Castaic Lions Club, who organized the event. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Representatives from every school in the Hart School District volunteered, totaling at least 200 kids. The kids were not just serving the seniors food and coffee though.

They created a true Thanksgiving experience by filling the role of grandchildren for a day, talking to and learning from the seniors’ lives.

“Beyond the classroom walls, our students are learning real life history,” said Bill Bolde, the principal of Saugus High School.

One such student was 15-year-old Alyssa Arce, a sophomore at Saugus High School. This was her first year volunteering after her friends told her about how much they enjoyed it last year and her favorite part was hearing the seniors’ stories.

“One lady worked in the school district for 53 years,” recalled Arce. “She started teaching when she was 18.”

Hart High School student Aspen Sorenson serves seniors at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center during 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/the Signal
Hart High School student Aspen Sorenson serves seniors at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center during 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The senior center Thanksgiving involved a lot more family than honorary grandchildren though. Many seniors have spent more than a decade participating at the senior center, and the people there have become family to them as well.

“I like it because the older we get, it’s harder to make friends,” said 81-year-old Roanna Woerter who attended the senior center Thanksgiving with her husband for ten years.

Coming year after year to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t uncommon at the senior center. The friendship and sense of community continues to bring them back, such as is the case with Art Tazio.

Tazio celebrated every Thanksgiving at the senior center since 1998 and when asked how long he plans on continuing the tradition, he said, “’Til I croak.”

He lives alone but that doesn’t mean he is alone. He has his family at the senior center, and every Thanksgiving, they are there for him.

Castaic Lions Club Event Chair Flo Lawrence, left, welcomes 270 seniors to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center for the 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/the Signal
Castaic Lions Club Event Chair Flo Lawrence, left, welcomes 270 seniors to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center for the 35th Thanksgiving feast hosted by the Castaic Lions Club, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Senior Center in Newhall on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal