Seniors gather to eat lunch every day inside the Senior Center. Meals are also delivered straight to the houses of seniors. (Garrett Estrada photo)

Seniors gather to eat lunch every day inside the Senior Center. Meals are also delivered straight to the houses of seniors. (Garrett Estrada photo)

Since Chris Ricci took over as the Senior Program Director for the Senior Center four years ago, the building has become more and more “chatty.“ According to Ricci, that is exactly the kind of thing she wants to see more of.

“Over these past four years I would say that this place has turned into more and more of a place to socialize,” the Program Director said. “That’s a good thing. We want to make people feel welcome.”

It is not uncommon to find upwards of thirty seniors on any given day in the week filling the tables inside the center during lunch time. Much like Ricci said about the chatter, the room can hum with the background noise of a high school cafeteria. Some patrons of the daily lunches will discuss local politics  over their meal while others will sit and reminisce. Others play checkers or piece together a jig saw puzzle in another room while listening to a television in the background. For Ricci, it’s about creating an atmosphere much more alive than that of sitting at home.

“We serve around 800 meals in house each month. And we are still growing. We just had eight new seniors who were from Ely come and join us for lunch for their first time the other day. It is encouraging to see that there are still some seniors in this community that are just now giving us a visit,” she said.

And while Ricci hopes to see more new faces all the time come through the center’s doors, she knows that not everyone  can make the trip. But through the center’s “Meals on Wheels” program, those seniors in the community that are stuck at home can still receive a fresh lunch delivered to their door. As Ricci points, out,  the program, which reaches out to McGill and Ruth as well as Ely, can also have other important benefits for seniors.

“We have two delivery drivers, one on the McGill route and the other on the Ely route. Right now they deliver meals to 42 seniors. It helps those people that can’t leave the house to eat but it also gives them someone to visit with and check up on them. For some of these seniors, that driver might be the only other person they see that day, so it can be nice for them when they come by,” Ricci explained.

In addition to the meals and games on hand at the Senior Center, Ricci said that it is her job to organize programs that benefit the seniors or the center itself. One such recent program, a yard sale of community donated items, raised over $800 that will be put directly into the center’s programs. Thanks to a donation from Robinson Nevada Mining Company, Ricci has another fundraiser already planned for the City of Ely’s big Fourth of July class reunion celebration.

“We will be hosting a fundraiser breakfast for seniors and those in town for the class reunion on July 3rd at 7 a.m. With the mine’s help, we were able to also get special reunion drinking glasses that will be available for sale throughout the holiday weekend,” Ricci said.

For more information on the Senior Center’s menu, programs or pricing, please call Ricci at 775-289-2742.