Variety shows its seniority at Coastal Leisure Center

CHEER coastal mah jongg players wolf, james ensor hartman

Mah Jongg, a Chinese tile game that tests the mind, is a popular attraction CHEER’s Coastal Leisure Center in Ocean View. Among the players, clockwise from lower-left: Joan Wolf, Kathy James, Kathy Ensor and Faye Hartman.

OCEAN VIEW — Variety is certainly the spice of life at the CHEER Coastal Leisure Center.

Several days a week, early-morning risers are at the door at 8 o’clock, eager to get in and head to the fitness room.

It’s not uncommon to see a dozen or more members gathered around a table in foursomes, enthralled in mah jongg – a Chinese tile game that exercises brain muscles.

“We do it because as seniors, it’s really good for your mind and really good for your brain,” said Coastal Leisure Center member Kathy James.

Italian – in word, verse and song – is voiced by participants in a Conversational Italian program.

Yoga, pinochle, poker, hand in foot, a painting club, live entertainment, special speakers, Bingo, movies and a drawing class are some of the drawing cards at the center..

Wait, there’s more.

On the calendar are a sewing/knitting club, wood carving club, dominoes, line dancing and an informal Spanish group, to name a few.

CHEER Coastal Leisure Center Director Yolanda Gallego is pictured with Dorothy "Dot" Ambrose, who celebrated her 100th birthday Oct. 31 with family and friends at her Ocean View condo. Ms. Ambrose is a former member of the CHEER facility in Ocean View.

Yolanda Gallego

“Every day there is a different schedule,” CHEER Coastal Leisure Center’s Director Yolanda Gallego.

Once a month, there is “Memory Café,” which is a leisure group open to the community for anybody with memory loss issues.

There is a diabetes prevention support group, a caregiver support group and a new monthly Parkinson’s support group, which Ms. Gallego hopes will lead in January to a specialized Parkinson’s exercise group once a week – on Thursday afternoon.

For those who tinker with technology, there is a tablet class and free computer lessons provided by a volunteer.

Arthritis tai chi, nurse health screenings and “sit and fit,” a chair-based exercise program, are some of the health-related offerings.

“What I tell people is: if you can’t find something you are interested in, come and tell me what you want. If people want it, I try to offer it,” said Ms. Gallego. “I like to do themes each month. It makes it interesting for me to plan and keep it interesting.”

October at the Coastal Leisure Center was Sensational 60s Month. It was capped by a dinner and guest appearance by Elvis Presley (popular Elvis tribute artist Bob Lougheed).

“He was great,” said Ms. Gallego.

Coastal Leisure Center has had a presence in the Ocean View/Bethany area since 1992. The current building is in its 10th year.

Membership – open to those 50 or older – fluctuates, depending on the season. It was about 380 in early-November. At the end of last year it was 580.

“We get some folks in just for the winter; some folks in just for the summer and we have some who are year-round,” said Ms. Gallego. “And some leave for one or two months.”

Thursdays and Fridays are travel days. A 2015 trip to the TaCaCo Alpacas farm in Laurel was a huge hit.

Monday is reserved for local shopping – the bank, grocery store or other destinations within a 10 miles of the center.

Lunch – brought from the CHEER Community Center hub in Georgetown – is served Monday through Friday on site, and to the homebound through Meals on Wheels.

“We have a wonderful volunteer base that drives the meals for us,” said Ms. Gallego. “All receptionists at the desk are all volunteers. I only have one paid employee – the kitchen manager.  Meals on Wheels, my Bingo callers … we have a fantastic group of volunteers here. It’s totally amazing. We have awesome members.”

“I come here and it feels like one big family,” said Ms. Gallego. “We look out after each other. It is a good place to be.”

CHEER coastal conservsational italian GOOD one

The CHEER Coastal Leisure Center features many programs and activities, including Conversational Italian. Joining togther on an Italian song, seated from left: Andy Maggio, Joanne Decker, Nancy Crouch and Tony Perticari; standing, Vincent Bertone and Marie Buckley.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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