The popular ‘Lunch and More’ event at the Naples Senior Center is back for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down. It allows seniors to socialize, eat, and enjoy time with others.
The event is all about making sure seniors have a place to go to be with others. With its new, much bigger location in North Naples off Immokalee Road, the Baker Senior Center Naples can offer the experience to even more people.
“We all used to sit at table 9. In fact, we belonged when it first opened,” said Alice French.
It’s no table 9, but French is ecstatic to be back with her friends, now at table 10, for the first time since COVID-19 forced the shutdown of the lunch.
“We are glad to see all the old people renew our relationship because we lost two years with the virus, so we’re all glad to see each other. Even though it’s not table 9, it’s still quite a few of us are from table 9.”
Olga Troyano is a new member of the table 9, now table 10, crew. “Very happy to have company and talking with everybody. When I leave, I feel lonely, yeah, very lonely.”
That’s exactly why the CEO of the Baker Senior Center, Dr. Jacclyn Faffer, said it was crucial to bring back the event. “We all know that isolation and loneliness can cause depression, anxiety. It also can have a significant physical impact on a person. Naples Senior Center was founded to combat isolation and loneliness. That’s what this lunch is all about.”
“Well, it’s companionship. You know most of us live by ourselves,” said French.
“It really is an opportunity for them to feel like they belong to a community and that they’re part of something so much bigger than they are,” Faffer said.
Seniors only pay a $60 yearly fee to be a part of the Naples Senior Center, and all events like ‘Lunch and More’ are free.
So the center relies a lot on community support. In fact, they raised a record $1 million at their gala fundraiser on Saturday, using the lunch event as a call to action.