Serving the community since 1970

Maria Martinez keeps seniors moving

At the Shafter Chamber of Commerce Banquet last week, the awards committee recognized Maria Martinez with the Health Award. Martinez has spent the last couple of decades dedicated to the health and happiness of Shafter's seniors.

Martinez is the senior adult coordinator for the Shafter Recreation Department, heading up a variety of programs and activities that are geared to keeping Shafter's seniors moving.

"I think that our seniors can be an active, productive members of the community.

Martinez leads the seniors in dances during the Cinco de Mayo parade and Festival, showcasing the seniors' ability to have fun and keep healthy at the same time.

Another big attraction to the Walker Senior Center is the chair exercise classes that are run at the center. Seniors have routines to perform that help their agility, endurance and flexibility, which can deteriorate over time.

Maria Martinez leads the programs to help keep our seniors busy. "The people love the fitness classes, with some of them enjoying maybe their only exercise during their week."

She also conducts arts and crafts class before the fitness class, which recently included creating butterflies out of plastic beads, which participants attach to pieces of construction paper. The results were a very colorful display.

Martinez said that the classes are just two examples of the many activities that are offered for anyone interested. "We have an outing once a month, where we will take them to the library in Bakersfield, or the Kern River, or sometimes the beach. Just a nice outing where they can relax, enjoy some travel and fellowship."

There is also lunch served at the Senior Center, which is also free. It meets all of the nutritional guidelines suggested by Kern Public Health. They do take donations, but no one is turned away because of an inability to pay.

Also working to keep the seniors of Shafter safe, they operate a cooling center on the site, depending on the temperature on that particular day. If the day is forecast for 105 degrees or higher, the center is open from 1 to 5 p.m. There are games, books and other activities that the seniors can participate in while keeping cool and safe.

"I just love the programs," said Juanita Hernandez, who participates in a number of the activities. "Maria is such a special person and she loves our community and the seniors in town. I don't think I would be as happy and healthy without the help and caring of Maria Martinez."


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