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Friendship Center helping seniors safely socialize

MONTECITO, Calif. — Marlene Vitanza is a local business owner in Montecito whose husband John Reynolds came down with dementia a few months prior to the pandemic. 

“I would have to leave him during the day and it was very worrisome to have him alone at home,” she said.

Since September, she’s been sending him to the Friendship Center in Montecito.

This adult day service center allows Reynolds to socialize with other seniors.

“It was incredible the way he took to being with other people and the fact that these people had the same problems he had,” Vitanza said.

After COVID closed the Friendship Center’s on-sight services for 15 months, the nonprofit finally reopened in the fall.

“We really focus in on what our seniors want to do and how they can be active during the day,” Friendship Center executive director Heidi Holly said. “This gives their caregivers a much-needed break.”

The senior social club fosters a compassionate community.

“My husband is in a safe environment,” Vitanza said. “He’s in a loving environment.”

Full of engaging activities, its members are able to interact with their peers for a purpose.

“I just get a lot of joy seeing the seniors interacting with their peers and being active to help them have a purpose in their lives,” Holly concluded.

Starting on Tuesday, the Friendship Center will bring back its full hours from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, you can visit their website or call them at (805) 969-0859 to schedule a tour of campus. 

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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