After a year of social isolation, members of Mission Viejo’s elderly population were nearly brought to tears May 3 as they celebrated the reopening of the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center.
“It’s wonderful to be back and to be with people,” Mission Viejo resident Jan Brown told The Epoch Times. “I saw people that I haven’t seen in over a year, and I think everyone was very joyous to be back and be doing something.”
Brown has been a member of the center for decades and said the past year of state-mandated COVID-19 closures left her disconnected from others in the community.
It’s been a tough year for seniors, Mission Viejo community services supervisor Melanie McGrane told The Epoch Times.
“For our older adult community, this year has been harder on them than the majority of people,” McGrane said May 3. “Today I saw people that haven’t seen each other almost crying from seeing their friends and having that social engagement.”
The center serves as a home-away-from-home for many older adults, and the excitement over its reopening is evident, she said.
Spots for classes are quickly filling; seniors are calling the center non-stop to secure their positions in offered classes open at 25 percent capacity, McGrane said.
“The priority of our city manager and our city as a whole is to reengage our older adults back from all this time of isolation and non-socializing,” she said. “We’re utilizing this reopening to bring back some of our beloved programs that we can run socially distanced as well as bring back our lounge area, a place for people to come sit, interact, check in on our Wi-Fi.”
The community center serves as a place for residents in Mission Viejo and surrounding cities to visit and participate in classes such as tai chi, line dancing, senior boxing, knitting, ping pong, jazzercise, and more.
While it was shut, the center received a makeover that includes new flooring, freshly-painted walls, and furniture upgrades for visiting guests.
Brown said she was pleased with the changes.
“The remodeling they did in there is really nice,” she said. “It’s really beautiful, clean, fresh and very spacious looking. I think one thing about the center is they made it very safe, so you feel comfortable being there.”
The community center will remain open for residents to visit Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 12 p.m.