When one of our longtime participants at the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center died last year, the entire St. Martins family was devastated. Manuel was the heartbeat of St. Martins. He was friendly and engaging and loved to dance; his vibrant smile would light up our senior center every day.
Of course, no one took the loss harder than his wife of 60 years, Aurora.
In making preparations to leave his earthly home, Manuel asked Aurora to make him a promise: that she would continue going to the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center. He knew the immeasurable joy that St. Martins brought to their lives.
“Don’t ever stop going to the little escuela,” he said. “I don’t want you to stay at home and be lonely.”
Manuel knew his wife well. In the year since his passing, Aurora says she still weeps when she’s home alone for too long. But when she visits St. Martins… “I am very happy,” she says. “I like it very much.”
St. Martins (or the “little school” as Manuel and Aurora lovingly called it) is a necessary sanctuary for seniors like Aurora. They gather for meals, companionship, games, educational trainings, fitness classes and prayer. Their camaraderie and joyfulness is palpable.
Seniors are an underserved population, so our St. Martin de Porres Senior Center is a critical endeavor:
- 40% of our regular attendees live alone
- 80% of our regular attendees live below the federal poverty level of $11,770
- 100% of our seniors are at risk for falling, becoming isolated or depressed
Fortunately, we are blessed by the support and prayers of parishioners in our diocese and people of goodwill. This support enables us to welcome seniors to the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center five days a week, helping them maintain independence, good health and hope. Most importantly, all of this comes at no cost to our seniors!
Brenda Marquez says that St. Martins has been a lifesaver for her mom Aurora and her four siblings during these difficult times.
“St. Martins is a reason for Mom to wake up in the morning,” Brenda said. “It’s a little heaven on Earth.”
At the senior center, Aurora is able to maintain her emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. She loves the visits from school children, the Zumba dance classes, and always participates in the Friday Eucharistic services.
“Knowing that my mom is comforted and cared for each day, that she is treated with respect and dignity… that has put the five of us at ease,” Brenda said. “It’s the reason we can go back to work.”
We’re grateful that Brenda has somewhere to turn… that thousands of family members sleep easier knowing their loved ones can come to St. Martins.The seniors participate in fitness classes that can reduce their risk of falling, educational courses and games so our seniors can stay mentally strong, and Catholic and interreligious prayer for our seniors of all faith traditions.
Last year in Philadelphia, Pope Francis reminded us that our grandparents, “are the memory of a family, they are the ones who gave us the faith.”
Today, I hope you are reminded of the blessing of your grandparents, your family, your faith. We are certainly blessed by you and by the seniors that come to the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center.
Our St. Martin de Porres Senior Center partners with the City of Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services. We welcome everyone who is 60 years of age or older, independent, and residing within the City of Alexandria. Our center is located at 4650 Taney Avenue and is open five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We provide congregate meals and a wide variety of health, exercise, social, recreational, educational, and entertainment activities, as well as field trips. All of this comes at no cost to our seniors because of generous support from the community. You can offer your support today by making a financial donation or becoming a volunteer. For more information, please visit our website or call (703) 751 – 2766.