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July 29, 2011 > Seniors share art through care program

Seniors share art through care program

By Julie Grabowski

Creating art opens the heart and mind, healing, inspiring, and allowing entry into endless worlds and possibilities. Art knows no color, creed, age, circumstance or ability, but opens her arms equally to all, offering the joy of creative expression and the opportunity to share something of ourselves with the world. Nowhere is this better reflected than in the next art show at Mission Coffee House, which features artwork from seniors through On Lok Lifeways' Fremont Center.

On Lok Lifeways is a non-profit organization dedicated to the long-term care of seniors, with the aim of keeping them out of nursing homes and hospitals; instead comfortably at home and involved in community for as long as possible. Following the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), ten centers serve seniors in San Francisco, Fremont, Newark, Union City, and Santa Clara County with full medical and support services including prescription drugs, dental, home care, transportation, meals, therapy, day health center and much more. Staff works with seniors and family members as a team to create individualized programs that accommodate seniors' needs and activity interests.

In order to be eligible for services, participants need to be 55 years of age or older, live within the service area, have ongoing medical problems that are certified by the state as needing nursing home level care, and be able to live safely in the community. The large majority of seniors who qualify for both Medicare and Medi-Cal can receive the services of On Lok Lifeways at no cost to them. Prospective seniors are evaluated through a home visit then assessed by medical staff at the center, followed by paperwork submitted to the state and paperwork for enrollment.

The Fremont center has been in operation for 10 years, helping to keep the seniors of Fremont, Newark, and Union City as independent and healthy as possible. Services will be expanding with the opening of another center at the end of the year located in the Centerville District on Peralta Boulevard. With a capacity for 140, 105 are currently enrolled at the Fremont center and benefiting from On Lok Lifeways' wonderful services.

Art has been one of the central elements of the center's services since it opened. Enrollment Specialist Johara Arduz believes that art has a big connection with emotions and feelings, and creating artwork is a powerful and productive aid, which helps improve physical health.

An art class is held every Friday, with approximately 100 seniors participating. Sometimes specific art techniques are taught, and other times instruction is more free form, such as works created from guided meditation. Various open studios are also arranged at other times in the week, providing an opportunity to work with different types of media. A textile group meets on Mondays, knitting, crocheting, and weaving items for seniors in nursing homes, and also donating their handiworks to Washington Hospital.

The art show at Mission Coffee House runs through the month of August and is a summary of the last two years of creative discovery and development at On Lok Lifeways. It will contain the work of 30 participants, including paintings, textiles, and masks representing the inner mask and inner feelings.

According to Recreation Therapist Jen Mank, creating art is a way of healing and communicating. Having their artwork hung in a professional way, to been seen and get their voices out there will be a great feeling for these senior artists. "It's been so much fun creating this art with them. They have a lot to say and I think the art show will prove that," says Mank.

A small opening reception will be held at Mission Coffee House on Monday, August 1 from 1 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. with about 10 of the participating artists on hand to talk about their work.

On Lok Lifeways Fremont Center is located at 159 Washington Boulevard. To learn more about their program contact Enrollment Specialist Johara Arduz at (510) 828-2529, the center at (510) 249-2700, or visit online at

On Lok Lifeways art show
August 1 - 31
Monday - Friday: 5 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 6 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Opening Reception
Monday, Aug 1
1 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

Mission Coffee House
151 Washington Blvd., Fremont
(510) 623-6920

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