Seniors in Soledad make pumpkin succulents at the SOCOS Social in November. (Contributed Photo)

SALINAS VALLEY — Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley’s new monthly social hours for active seniors in South Monterey County have garnered much success since their September launch.

The pilot program, called SOCOS Social (SOuth COunty Seniors Social), offers a safe space for seniors age 60 and older to socialize and enjoy a free meal while listening to live music and learning about local resources. The social hours are being held monthly on the second Tuesday of the month in Soledad and on the third Thursday of the month in Gonzales.

According to MOWSV Executive Director Regina Gage, the events have been an “overwhelming success.”

“We knew there was a need for seniors to get out and socialize, and that was confirmed by the attendance we have seen at both SOCOS Socials,” Gage said.

During the socials, a complimentary lunch provided by area restaurants is served to the seniors, while local musicians present live music. Food Bank for Monterey County has also been supplying all guests with a free goodie box filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition, a variety of senior resources is available at the events. Seniors can speak with representatives from local agencies, including Alliance on Aging, American Red Cross, Blue Zones Project, California Highway Patrol, Home Match Monterey County, ITN Monterey County (Independent Transportation Network), Interim Inc. and Legal Services for Seniors, about their concerns and receive information.

Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley currently delivers meals every Wednesday to homebound seniors in South Monterey County, including the cities of Soledad and Gonzales. The new program is helping to further expand the agency’s reach in the area, according to Laurie Bend, outreach director for MOWSV.

“Last September we began a pilot program, in addition to our meal delivery program, by expanding our reach and creating a new monthly program for active seniors, 60 years-plus, who are eager to interact with others after these months of isolation due to Covid-19 restrictions,” Bend explained.

The upcoming SOCOS Social in Soledad is set for Tuesday, Dec. 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Soledad Community Center, with live Mariachi music and a holiday wreath-making activity. Call 831-223-5250 to register, or visit the center at 560 Walker Drive to register in person.

In Gonzales, the next SOCOS Social is planned for Thursday, Dec. 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at St. Theodore’s Church Parish Hall, 116 S. Belden St., with a visit from Santa Claus himself and a Christmas performance by La Gloria Elementary students. Call Marilyn Duby at 831-675-2579 or Lupe Kinnear at 831-809-8216 to register.

Advanced registration is strongly encouraged at both events.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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