The Janet Goeske Center welcomes back community members who are 50 and older for programs, events and new friendships.
The Janet Goeske Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for older adults. It offers fitness programs, works with partners to deliver nutrition programs and advocates to address challenges that impact older residents. Activities, programs and classes are at the Goeske Center in Riverside and are open to anyone 50 or older.
“The goal of the center, and what we do really well, is to create happy healthy seniors in the community,” the organization’s Executive Director Danielle Nelson said. “My vision of the center for the future is to make sure that all seniors in the community know that we are here, open and ready to serve.”
Older people who are not socially, mentally and physically active suffer, Nelson said. The Goeske Center is a second home for many older residents and when its doors closed during a portion of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was challenging for them. Many faced social isolation and inactivity that led to decreased mobility and cognitive decline, according to Nelson. Now that the Goeske Center is open, Nelson wants to get the word out and encourage older residents to visit and discover the programs and activities in which they can participate.
It can be hard for those who are new to the Goeske Center to come in for the first time, but new visitors often make fast friends.
One new member who was recently widowed was nervous but walked up to a group of women to ask what they were playing, Nelson said. She learned that one of the ladies had also been experiencing loneliness since the loss of her husband and they decided to spend more time together. Now they are best friends that have dinner and participate in activities together.
“All these beautiful friendships are blossoming, not just for the members, but also for the staff and the board,” Nelson said. “I never in a million years would have imagined that I would be so close to the people who come here.”
Older people interested in learning more about the Goeske Center are encouraged to attend its Back to School Night Open House. The event is Thursday, Sept. 15, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be snacks, refreshments and giveaways. Guests can also experience some of the activities the center offers and physical fitness demonstrations. Special guests will include members of the Riverside City Council and representatives from the Riverside Police Department and the Riverside Fire Department, who will demonstrate that they are there for older people and to support them.
Nelson hopes the open house will be an opportunity for more community members to become volunteers. Half of the organization’s staff has not returned since the center reopened. The Goeske Center has always depended on volunteers and now more than ever needs the support of those willing to donate their time. Volunteers are the heroes of the organization, according to Nelson, and a range of volunteer opportunities can match the interests and skills of those interested.
Recently, The Janet Goeske Foundation received a grant from the Community Impact Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The Goeske Center depends on support from the city of Riverside, grants and donations to offer low- and free programs. Older residents wishing to become members can pay a $20 membership fee to help support the organization. However, all income levels are welcome at the center and membership is not required.
“Tell your friends and let others know that we are here,” Nelson said. “Even better, give someone a ride. We have something for everyone, whether you are 50 or 90.”
Information: 951-351-8800 or https://jgc4seniors.com/
Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.