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  • Autumn Payne /

    Gary Carty tries to push open a heavy glass door with one hand while steering his walker with the other at the Stanford Settlement Senior Center in Sacramento. Officials say an automatic door opener would make things easier for those who visit the center for social services and to socialize.

  • Autumn Payne /

    Volunteer Blanch Shakir, 72, right, greets a friend visiting the center, which Shakir describes as "a warm and inviting place."

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Book of Dreams: Automatic door opener would aid senior center

Published: Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 - 7:10 pm

For more than 30 years, the Stanford Settlement Senior Center has helped to lift the loneliness that often shadows those growing older.

Without it, some might go days without the good cheer and company of others.

The center, 450 W. El Camino Ave., is part of the Stanford Settlement Neighborhood Center, which provides social services and emergency help to disadvantaged individuals and families in the Gardenland-Northgate, North Sacramento and Natomas communities. The Senior Center provides meals, activities, counseling and conversation in a bright and friendly atmosphere.

As many as 70 seniors can be found there many mornings. They are grateful for the opportunity.

Joanne Hodgkinson, 75, for example, visited the center for the first time several months ago. Before that, her only source of socializing came while sitting in a treatment chair in a dialysis center, chatting with other patients.

Her son brings her nearly every day to the Senior Center.

"It gives you something to look forward to tomorrow," said Hodgkinson, who enjoys doing crafts. "I was getting very introverted just staying home. It wasn't good. You need to converse and be with other people."

Blanch Shakir, 72, agreed. A volunteer at the center, she greets visitors and makes sure greeting cards get signed and sent for birthdays, sickness and personal losses.

"It's just a warm and inviting place," Shakir said.

In 1993, the existing Senior Center was built to replace a smaller one, said Sister Jeanne Felion, executive director of Stanford Settlement and a member of the Sisters of Social Service. At that time, the seniors who came were an active group, she said.

With time, the population grew older and more frail. The center remains comfortable, but a structural struggle has emerged: The large and heavy glass front doors, which can be difficult even for a younger person to open.

"When we built the center in 1993, we didn't think about the doors," Felion said.

"Nobody was in a wheelchair and very few used walkers. Today, so many more are in walkers or wheelchairs. They have to wait for someone else to open the door for them."

Felion is asking Book of Dreams readers to support the purchase of an automatic door opener, which the center cannot afford, to provide more ease and independence for those seeking fellowship at the center.

NEEDED: Automatic door opener for the Stanford Settlement Senior Center.

TOTAL: $2,300

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