Avondale Senior Center

Regulars at the Avondale Senior Center gathered to play games Thursday, March 12, the day before an announcement was made that the center would close indefinitely as of Monday, March 16. 

Last week, President Donald Trump, Gov. Doug Ducey and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control advised those under 60 to avoid crowds and stay home as much as possible, to protect against COVID-19 — which can be deadly for the elderly population. 

Senior centers around the West Valley started taking action late last week.

The city of Goodyear canceled “all recreation programs through the end of April.” Goodyear Recreation typically has a variety of activities for seniors.

The Avondale Senior Center temporarily suspended programming activities and transportation beginning Monday, March 16. 

Chris Lopez, director of the Neighborhood and Family Services department of Avondale, said, “We understand the elderly population are some of those that are most at risk. We wanted to be proactive and really take care of our seniors in the community and prevent any additional risk.”

The senior center will continue its Home Delivered Meal Program for seniors who depend on it, Lopez said. Participants who rely on the congregate meal program can pick up a Brown Bag meal from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays from the center. Accommodations for delivery will be made for residents who depend on the center’s transportation services. 

Lopez said he doesn’t know how long the center will be closed and the city is working diligently to keep its residents updated. He said the center gets roughly 85 seniors per day.

Before learning the center would be closing, participants said they were wary but enjoyed meeting with their peers at the Avondale Senior Center.

Sandra Butler is one senior who frequents the center. 

“This is my first time seeing something as big as this,” said Butler, 75. “I don’t remember in my lifetime seeing something as rapid as this.”

Butler said she hasn’t made many drastic changes to her lifestyle, but she is mindful of the things she touches and to be thoroughly clean.

“I’m not shaking anyone’s hand right now,” Butler said. “I’m aware of what’s going on and when I’m around people, I try to be mindful of what I’m doing.

“I don’t care who you are and with whom you are, it’s just scary. You have to be mindful and worry about every little thing now.”

Samuel Quezada, 64, lives in Litchfield Park. He said he was very concerned about the virus three weeks ago but has managed to remain calm. He said he realized all he can do is be clean as he goes about his day.

“You have to be clean and sanitize everything,” Quezada said. “You want to be proactive and not give it a chance to spread.”

At the Avondale Senior Center, he pitched in by volunteering to sanitize Bingo cards.

“I think we have taken a good approach at the center,” Quezada said. “We make sure everything that we use is cleaned.”