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LOEL Center-of Lodi: Let’s Get Social!

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Let’s face it, humans are social creatures. We’re meant to laugh, hug, tell stories, interact with each other. Yet as we age and our lives shift, creating new connections doesn’t always come so easily. The late William Holtz recognized this when he founded the LOEL Center in 1976. LOEL, which stands for Lodi Elderly, is a place for seniors to come together, interact and create community as well as receive nutritional needs.

Marjory Shrenk, president and CEO, commented that the center has been a great support for seniors. “There’s a stigma that the LOEL Center is a convalescent home. It’s an active group of caring people and a fun group,” she said. “The center often serves as a place for seniors who don’t have family connections or have family who can’t always attend to their daily interactions.” In addition, she noted many of the frequent attendees look out for each other. “If someone doesn’t show up, the seniors check on their friends,” she added. “It ends up being a family.”

And that rings true for regulars such as Ann Voegele, who’s been attending the center for the past 18 years and even holds a regular seat. “I’ve been sitting at table three for 16 years,” she remarked proudly. “We even have parties at our table.” Ann, who is a widow, started attending long ago when a friend recommended the center and found a supportive community. “Everyone is welcoming here, especially the staff,” she affirmed.

Chris Jacobson, director of fund development, also points out that there’s a great diversity of people who attend, from retired lawyers and nurses to veterans. “There’s a wide range of people, ethnicities, background. It’s just a group of people looking to be social,” he reported.

Never a Slow Season
The LOEL Center provides a wide variety of social activities such as bingo, line dancing, craft making or simply playing cards with friends. “It’s beneficial to attendees’ mental health. It helps give them a purpose,” said Jacobson. Like Shrenk, he recognizes the bonds many of the seniors make. “They come in and work out and they hold each other accountable.”

In addition to social activities, the center provides other amenities. From support to seniors such as income tax assistance to health services such as blood pressure checks, it’s a wonderful help to individuals who might not have that assistance in their life. One of the frequent services provided by the center is their in-house daily lunch prepared by an onsite chef. “We can serve anywhere from 60 to 120 people daily,” offered Jacobson. The center also offers a service of meals on wheels for those who are homebound, as well as In Touch Caring, a service to call seniors who cannot physically leave their homes.

The Need is Always There
Jacobson pointed out that the demand for the center continues to grow and there is always a steady flow all year long; services are solely dependent on the support of the community. He acknowledged that often other charities with more visibility get more of the media spotlight while seniors are often overlooked. “It’s a silent and forgotten generation. They don’t value our seniors as we would like them to be valued.” He acknowledges that supporting seniors is a worthy cause for contributions, especially as the demands for senior services continues to rise. “We are funded by grants and donations, and the center has become so popular that we are expanding some of the facilities, such as the expansion of the bathrooms and the hope to also expand to larger facilities.”
While frequent attendees such as Ann continue to visit the center, the biggest takeaway is the happiness exuded by the staff, volunteers and seniors. “I love the people. We laugh a lot,” shared Ann.
Shrenk encouraged others to see for themselves how lively and supportive the LOEL Center can be. “Come down and check us out and see what we’re doing.”

If you would like to visit the LOEL Center, become a volunteer or donate, you can visit their site in East Lodi on 105 S. Washington Street or their website at