Grant money helping Sierra Vista programs

Wellness project is underway
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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Adding to the quality of life of Colfax-area residents is the aim of a wellness project now underway. The Sierra Vista Community Center will assess and enhance the mental well being of young and old alike in the project funded by a $20,000 grant from the Placer Community Foundation. According to project manager DeBora Miller, she and Otis Wollan are working with present and former Sierra Vista board members to create pilot programs of timely classes on wellness. The first phase will focus on the needs of the aging population and the second phase will reach out to youth. “We’re in the planning stages and will start the canvassing and assessment process to determine what the particular needs of people are,” Miller said. Miller said the area has a large senior population: The 2000 census showed 35 percent of the population is from 45 to 65 and older. “In rural communities,” she said, “people feel isolated. They may not know what’s going on.” The project will use the experience, talents and knowledge of artists, musicians, farmers, gardeners and professionals working locally. “The plan is to create Senior Saturdays … we’ll be offering different things at Sierra Vista that people can engage in to develop or stimulate interest,” Miller said. Sierra Vista has recently renovated its commercial kitchen where produce from the on-site community garden will be used to teach about nutrition and cooking and serving healthy meals. “We want to utilize some of the talent and experience from the people involved in the community garden, and we’ve got an art group … starting to do programs,” she said. Music and art classes, as well as gentle stretching and senior exercise classes are also planned. To Louis Ling and Eileen Valdez Woods, seniors would benefit if there were a local, central location where they could get information about services available to them. Ling, a retired medical doctor, lives in rural Colfax and volunteers at the Colfax Library. He said there is a need for “a center where they can obtain information about government programs such as Social Security and Medicare … where they can learn how to ask questions about other programs that might be available to them.” Valdez Woods is a Nevada County resident who is a social worker in the home health industry serving Placer County. “I’d like to see more information (made available) on programs such as the Lions hearing-aid program and glasses” they provide, Valdez Woods said. Seniors also need to know about transportation options available to them when they can no longer drive, she said. Ling agrees that transportation is a major issue for seniors. “How would they even get to the Sierra Vista Center?” he asked. Miller said she and Wollan will be out in the community during the assessment period. She is hoping to develop a community forum so that people can talk and share about what they’d like to see happening at Sierra Vista. Area residents can also call Miller at 346-7909. “We’re going to fine tune it depending on input we get from the community over the next couple of months,” Miller said.