This article originally appeared in the Desert Sun, February 2022

Mizell Center has served seniors in the greater Palm Springs area for more than 45 years and welcomes vaccinated members and visitors to return and enjoy in-person programs. Mizell currently offers a full calendar with popular activities like fitness classes, dancing, music, art and games.

In addition to social activities, the organization also runs a Meals on Wheels program and congregate meals which are currently available to-go for $5.00. From March 2020 to March 2021, Mizell served close to 230,000 meals, which was the highest number in its history.

Another challenge that Mizell Center tackled during the COVID-19 pandemic was creating a robust Geriatric Case Management program. The Center was faced with clients calling to ask for resources but didn’t have a structure in place to handle the calls. The program addresses this need with helpful bilingual, multi-cultural staff who connect callers to local resources. Needs include assistance with utilities, rent and medical care.

“So many seniors have no experience having to access these resources,” the organization’s Executive Director, Wes Winter said. “Many of them are middle class and have never needed help. It’s not just helping them find the resources, but how to ask for help.”

This has become a larger need due to the effects of the pandemic, according to Winter. Seniors on fixed incomes are impacted by increases in the cost of rent and groceries. Through Case Management, professionals introduce available resources that seniors may not know exist and help them obtain assistance. Staff is able to walk clients through every step, assisting them in navigating the application processes.

Recently, the Mizell Center received a grant from the 150 Circle of Giving through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The organization depends on grants and donations to support its programs. While Mizell has not been able to hold fundraising events during the last two years, the community stepped up to help.

“I was absolutely and remain blown away by the velocity of people’s response to the crisis,” Director of Development, Harriet Baron. “They wanted to do something right now. It was extraordinary.”

On April 10, Mizell will hold its first signature event since before the pandemic. The event is themed “Home at Last” as a nod to holding it at the Center. While the event will be less formal than past events, it will be no less significant with proceeds supporting the organization’s Meals on Wheels and Geriatric Case Management programs. Just 140 guests will enjoy a meal from 849 Catering and the entertainment of Liz Callaway. Tables of ten are available for $5,000; no individual seats will be sold.

Mizell invites the community to come visit and partake in its increasingly busy weeknight schedule. Offerings include a Speaker Series usually help on the third Wednesday of each month and activities with sound baths. Evening programs have recently had a high turnout and are a great opportunity to socialize, Baron sad. Interested individuals can visit Mizell’s website to investigate available programming.

Membership to Mizell is $35 and provides free or discounted admission to classes and activities. While programming is developed to match the interests of mature adults, all ages are welcome. Mizell Center also depends on the dedication of its volunteers and is always eager to welcome more.

“We have many people who arrive in the morning and stay until the afternoon,” Winter said. “This pandemic has shown us the importance of addressing isolation in seniors. If we weren’t here, it would be incredibly problematic for the whole community.”

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