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Finding family at Senior Circle

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Standing on the top left, Megan Creighton and Brooke Linthicum, right, pose with Senior Circle members who are present for daily morning coffee, playing cards or an exercise class at 2801 N. Main St. Suite D, next door to Family Dollar. (Submitted Photo)

For 20 years now, Senior Circle, funded by Eastern New Mexico Medical Center (ENMMC), has provided a place for seniors to connect and engage in active, healthy lifestyles.

Megan Creighton, Senior Circle advisor, and Brooke Linthicum, ENMMC marketing director, oversee the free resource available for participants that are 50 and over.

“It’s one big, happy family,” Creighton said, adding that people are the most enjoyable aspect of her job.

Creighton said there are 3,000 members of Senior Circle with members from Roswell and the surrounding areas. On a weekly basis, she sees about 100-150 seniors. Her responsibilities include scheduling, event planning, managing memberships and coordinating all available activities at Senior Circle. She has worked there for five years.

To join Senior Circle, Creighton said interested individuals can fill out an application and then they receive a membership card. Creighton said the only requirement to be at Senior Circle is to sign in and show their membership cards.

Once they are members, they have access to physician-led health seminars, social engagements, education programs, volunteer opportunities and other entertainment events and activities.

“… Health and well-being is so, so important as you age,” Linthicum said. “So Senior Circle offers that opportunity for them to get out of their house, to socialize, to exercise, to keep their mind going and their mind busy, playing whether it be cards or dominoes or building a puzzle, or learning about a health topic. …”

Linthicum said ENMMC physicians and other health resources in the community for seniors often present at the monthly seminars. She said health topics are chosen upon request or selected to cover an “important health issue going on in the community.”

Senior Circle’s weekly schedule includes Monday movies, daily morning coffee, exercise groups, playing cards and dominoes, tai chi, yoga, sing-a-longs, Strong Bones fitness class, aerobics, open art studio, and more. Creighton said she is working on adding bingo. The facility also offers free internet access as well as computers to use at the facility. Members also have access to DVDs, VHS tapes, books and puzzles to borrow.

A monthly birthday party is held for members — which is open to the public — and they gather everyone for group photos.

Linthicum said the program is not just open to seniors, but people who are 50 and over — who may be retired, don’t have family locally or are facing the challenges of having an “ill or deceased” spouse — can have an outlet to socialize and be active.

Since many seniors’ incomes are fixed, Linthicum said affording extras can be difficult, so Senior Circle provides a free opportunity for engaging and supportive friendships for seniors.

“… I can’t tell you how many times in the last two weeks I’ve been told that they wouldn’t have anything else to do if they didn’t have Senior Circle, or they wouldn’t have friends if they didn’t have the people at Senior Circle,” Linthicum said. “So I think it’s just a lifeline for a lot of people. … It’s just a great place to come, and like Megan (Creighton) said, it’s one big happy family. There’s a lot of happy wonderful people that come there.”

Glenn Whitecotton, who has been a member for four years, attends morning coffee at 9 a.m. where other members tell “interesting stories” and he shares his own from his days on the road as a truck driver.

“That happens to a lot of people — some of them, their spouses are passed away or something and all of their brothers and sisters are dead, that sort of thing, and the camaraderie from ‘Circle is the only thing they have to look forward to,” Whitecotton, 75, said. “And so it’s a really good thing in that respect.”

Judy McDonald has also been a member for four years, and aerobics and stitching are some of her favorite activities. McDonald, 77, retired from the Department of Defense schools where she taught for 32 years in Germany, Japan and Korea. She joined Senior Circle to keep busy after retirement in addition to involvement at her church and having friends.

“It has so many good things to offer for people that are retired,” McDonald said. “It has games. It has movies. It has books. It has guest speakers. There’s just a variety of activities that are really enticing for us as we age.”

As a team, Creighton and Linthicum make Senior Circle “a very friendly, calming place to be,” McDonald said.

“Senior Circle is a lot of people’s second home …” Creighton said. “People that don’t have family, they come and find family at Senior Circle.”

For more information on Senior Circle, call 575-623-2311or visit enmmc.com/senior-circle-program.

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.