LA SED Provides Activities and Support for Southwest Detroit Seniors


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By John Bentley

Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED) has been providing a variety of bilingual services and activities for the residents of Southwest Detroit since 1969. A 501(c)(3) non-profit, it serves both young people and older adults.

The senior center at 7150 W. Vernor – in the same facility that houses the youth programs – helps adults 64 and over maintains an independent lifestyle in their own homes

On a recent Friday, the regulars are socializing, playing pool, eating lunch, competing in dominos, and just enjoying themselves. It’s a beehive of activity, with plenty of music and laughter.

A lot of our people say this is their home away from home,” says Andrea Castañeda, who oversees both the senior and youth programs. “They call us their little family.”

For many, the center is a main source of social interaction. LA SED provides transportation to and from the facility for those who need it.

Some of their kids live far away and they don’t get to see them every day, so this is where they come to interact,” says Castañeda. Many additional activities are offered other days of the week: Arts and crafts produce distribution, field trips – plus a variety of exercise programs.

There’s a full-size gym at the center, and a Zumba class in in progress. Leader Roberto Nearon bounds about the stage in front of 30 fellow health enthusiasts, taking them step by step through the regimen, all to the beat of fast-paced music. The seniors rock back and forth; bounce up and down, with big smiles on their faces.

Betty Ybarra, a center regular, credits a LA SED walking class with helping her get past the effects of a serious auto accident. “When I started I could walk five minutes,” she says. “Now I can do 19 laps around the gym without my cane.”

Classes and activities aren’t all LA SED provides its clientele, says Castañeda.

Many of our seniors are Spanish-speaking, so we advocate on their behalf,” she says. A couple rooms away, in fact, Social Security personnel are meeting one by one with seniors to help translate documents and provide other assistance.

Fraud is also a big thing that some of our seniors have been hit with,” says Castañeda. “So we bring in Elder Law and the Detroit Police to do presentations that help prevent it.”

The goal, she says, is to keep seniors healthy and aware of what’s going on.

Veda Myles, who attends LA SED most days with her mother, Annie, says she’s thankful for all the center provides: “We need to get out, keep moving, and stay social,” she says.

LA SED senior center receives funding from Ford Motor Company. To learn more or to make a donation, visit the website at www.lasedinc.org.

Author: John Bentley

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