SCV Senior Center hosts a family Thanksgiving
On a holiday focused on spending time with family, many can feel lonely. At the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center at Bella Vida, family is not defined by blood. Family is those who gather around a table, enjoying a freshly cooked meal and take care of one another on a holiday filled with gratitude.
“It’s been a blessing,” said Elizabeth Comer.
The Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center at Bella Vida held its annual Thanksgiving dinner for the seniors on Thursday. This dinner is brought on as a collaborative effort from Bella Vida, Castaic Lions club and the work of many volunteers.
George Kerjos, president of the Castaic Lions Charity Foundation, estimates that this annual dinner has been taking place for 25 years. Approximately 10 years ago, the Castaic Lions Club began providing all of the funding for the event.
“We’re always of service, we serve,” said Kerjos.
Bella Vida worked to provide Thanksgiving meals all across the valley. In addition to the more than 300 meals served at the dine-in event, 250 meals were served via meals on wheels and 300 meals were delivered to Acton seniors.
After a two-year hiatus, the seniors were finally able to gather to enjoy this meal with friends and family.
“We want to make sure that the seniors in this community feel loved and this is one way we can do it, by sharing a holiday meal with them,” said Kevin MacDonald, chief executive officer of Bella Vida.
More than 100 volunteers played their parts in creating the perfect Thanksgiving dinner for the seniors.
Volunteers were bustling around the room while the seniors got to simply sit and enjoy their meal, surrounded by familiar and unfamiliar faces.
“I think they’ve really missed the socialization,” said volunteer Alyssa Alderman. “Even though they’ve had classes and such that they’ve been able to come to, being able to sit down and have a Thanksgiving meal, they’re very thankful for that. I think it means the world to them.”
“So many people come here to be a part of it, to volunteer and be here. It’s just amazing. This is so the seniors feel very loved and appreciated.”
The seniors feel just that.
Bob and Elizabeth Comer were among the first people in attendance at this event many years ago. Their love and appreciation for the event keeps them coming back.
“This is a special, special day and we all look forward to it,” said Bob.
Seated next to Bob and Elizabeth was Joanne Kruger. This was Kruger’s first time in attendance.
“They’ve done wonderful,” said Kruger. “Why, I couldn’t have expected anything more. We got everything imaginable as if we went out to a restaurant. It was fabulous.”
Kruger’s husband died on Nov. 12, 2021. She was brought to tears as she gestured to everyone at her table and shared her appreciation for everything the event had given her.
“This has been a gift,” said Kruger. “These people, they welcomed me to their table. It’s like coming to a family. I just don’t want to miss.”
Many places are closed on Thanksgiving, but Bella Vida’s open doors and open heart stress the importance of togetherness on festivities such as this, especially in the senior community.
“We want to bring the senior community together,” said MacDonald. “Those who might not have someone to spend Thanksgiving with. Their new family is our family.”
Those wishing to donate to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center at Bella Vida can do so at myscvcoa.org.