The Janet Goeske Center welcomes back community members aged 50 and above for programs, events and new friendships.

The Janet Goeske Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for older adults. The organization provides fitness programs, works with partners to deliver nutrition programs for seniors and provides advocacy to address challenges that impact seniors. Activities, programs and classes are provided at Goeske Center in Riverside and are open to anyone 50 or over who wish to attend.

“The goal of the center, and what we do really well, is to create happy healthy seniors in the community,” the organization’s executive director, Danielle Nelson said. “My vision of the center for the future is to make sure that all seniors in the community know that we are here, open and ready to serve.”

Older adults who are not socially, mentally and physically active suffer, Nelson said. Goeske Center is a second home for many seniors and when its doors were closed during a portion of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was challenging for them. Many seniors faced social isolation and inactivity that led to decreased mobility and cognitive decline, according to Nelson. Now that the Goeske Center is open, Nelson wants to get the word out and encourage seniors to visit and discover the programs and activities in which they can participate.

It can be hard for those new to the Goeske Center to come in for the first time, but new visitors often make fast friends. One new member who was recently widowed was nervous but walked up to a group of women to ask what they were playing, Nelson said. The new member discovered one of the ladies had also been experiencing loneliness since the loss of her husband and they decided to spend more time together. Now they are best friends who have dinner and participate in activities together.

“All these beautiful friendships are blossoming not just for the members but also for the staff and the board,” Nelson said. “I never in a million years would have imagined that I would be so close to the people who come here.”

Seniors who are interested in learning more about Goeske Center are encouraged to attend its Back to School Night Open House. The event takes place on September 15th from 4 PM to 7 PM. There will be snacks, refreshments and free giveaways. Guests can also experience some of the many activities the center offers and physical fitness demonstrations. Special guests include the City Council of Riverside, Riverside Police Department and the Riverside Fire Departments who will attend to demonstrate that they are there for seniors and support them.

Judy Carpenter, JGF Board Director, and Emmanuel Meraz, partner from Meraz insurance cook for patrons and celebrate at the Independence Day BBQ at Goeske Center, an event that normally draws 400-500 attendees.

Nelson also hopes that the open house will be an opportunity for more community members to become volunteers. Half of the organization’s staff have not returned since the center has re-opened. The Goeske Center has always depended on volunteers and now more than ever needs the support of those willing to donate their time. Volunteers are the heroes of the organization according to Nelson and a wide range of volunteer opportunities are available to match the interests and skills of those interested.

Recently, The Janet Goeske Foundation received a grant from the Community Impact Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The Goeske Center depends on support from the city, grants and donations to offer low and no-cost programming. Seniors wishing to become members can pay a $20 membership fee to help support the organization. However, all income levels are welcome at the center and membership is not required.

“Tell your friends and let others know that we are here,” Nelson said. “Even better, give someone a ride. We have something for everyone whether you are 50 or 90.

More Information: https://jgc4seniors.com/ or (951) 351-8800

This article originally appeared in the Press Enterprise, August 2022.

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