Playing tennis with friends twice a week and taking her granddaughters for manicures and facials twice a month were among the activities that filled the days of Golda Rubin. A self-described energetic extrovert, she thrived on personal relationships and activities that allowed for social interactions. COVID brought her activities to an abrupt and prolonged halt that had a profound effect on her wellbeing.
"It was a hard adjustment," said Rubin, a 75-year-old widow. "I was used to seeing my daughter and grandchildren at least once a week, meeting with my book club once a month and having lunch with friends that I've known since high school. Those relationships meant so much and having them taken away made me so lonely. "
As a remedy to damaging effects of isolation that seniors such as Rubin experienced during the pandemic, a newly revamped program at the Potomac Community Center offers activities that range from celebrations for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day to bingo games and lectures on art.
The center’s activities coordinator, Karen Jackson-Knight says changes are designed to encourage reengagement after pandemic years of solitude.
"We know that seniors need the interactions that COVID stopped,” said Jackson. “They bring their lunch, and we have brain games, speakers and musical entertainment. Since this is Women’s History Month, someone from the Montgomery County Historical Society gave a talk on the lives of famous women like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe. We’ve had someone from the Montgomery County Fire Department come in and talk about safety.”
Though Rubin has reconnected with her friends and family, she has acquired new acquaintances by joining some of the activities at the community center. “I met a woman who was a librarian and invited her to join my book club,” said Rubin. “That was a delightful coincidence,”
Thanks to a partnership with Potomac Community Villages, Jackson says that a docent from the National Gallery of Art gives frequent lectures on some of the museum’s works of art.
“We’re getting ready to start taking field trips to local museums including Glenstone Museum right here in Potomac,” she said.
The activities draw about 60 active participants and Jackson expects that number to increase significantly in the near future.
“One of the things that makes the program enriching, is the wide variety of people who come,” she said. “We have [retired] secretaries, doctors, lawyers. There is one woman who comes who is an elder affairs lawyer and has given advice to some of the seniors on how not to get scammed.”
Among the most popular activities are parties and other social events, suggests Jackson. “We celebrate birthdays and have celebrations on special days,” she said. "We have food like finger sandwiches, coffee and tea and we’re going to have a barbeque in May. Anyone who is a senior can drop in at any time.”
Activities are held on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., include lunch, and are free for those 55 and older. For more information, visit:
Potomac Community Center, 240-777-6960