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I remember having conversations with my grandparents who were in their eighties, and my parents and their friends who were in their sixties. What I enjoyed the most was listening to their stories, where they came from, what they did for a living, what they thought about different things and how they wanted to spend their retirement.

My folks were active, played golf, liked to travel. Many of their friends enjoyed these activities. I was very impressed with their love of life and their wisdom. I always enjoyed our times together.

In those days families stayed together and children often bought homes in the same neighborhood or city as their parents. They were always there when their parents needed them.

Things are different today. Many people came here over the years because of employment opportunities and have elected to stay because it’s such a great place to live. Others retire here because of the lower cost of housing, weather and beauty of our valley that we enjoy every day.

But now we often find our children go off to school and don’t come back home to work and raise a family. We find that many senior citizens are without families here and are often alone. Many find themselves becoming socially inactive and are sometimes at a loss as to how they can fill that void.

The Luis OASIS Senior Center was founded in 1984 to provide a place where seniors can develop friendships and improve the quality of their lives through connection and activities. OASIS — which stands for Orcutt Area Seniors In Service — programs include health and wellness, creative arts, music and dance, nutrition, support groups, social activities and more. We are a privately-funded nonprofit and rely on grants and community support to continue to offer our programs and activities. Our collaborative partners include Hancock College, HICAP, Dignity Health, SMOOTH, Foodbank, Area Agency on Aging, Community Action Commission and others.

Our goal is to provide an array of activities to any senior citizen who wants to be involved. We have a highly-qualified staff that performs the daily work required in a center such as this, but most of the activities are run by volunteers who are members of OASIS. We encourage volunteerism, and not only do our volunteers make OASIS such a great place, but they also help with other nonprofits.

We are approaching a membership of 1,500 and we’ve run out of room at our present location where we’ve been since 1984. We need a larger and more modern facility to accommodate our growth and needs.

Land for a new facility has been donated to us by the Lebard family, and we are in the process of fulfilling the requirements necessary to obtain building permits from the county. Our plan is to construct a 15,000-square-foot facility that will contain a room that will hold 200 people along with a full kitchen and barbecue area.

In addition, there will be a library, two state-of-the-art classrooms and meeting rooms. The property consists of five acres and, along with the building, will contain park areas, a walking trail with exercise stations and benches for resting, and a bicycle trail. There will be ample parking and local residents will always be welcome to explore our facility and grounds.

We are currently in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $4 million to complete our project. We are grateful to have support from many prominent citizens of the Santa Maria Valley as well as large and small businesses.

OASIS fills a big need for our area and the new facility will allow us to expand our existing activities as well as add new ones. To find out more about OASIS, call us at 805-937-9750 or check us out at orcuttoasis.org.

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Joe Sheaff is chairman of the board for OASIS, Orcutt Area Seniors In Service, Inc.

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