Filling Silence With Community - Little Tokyo Service Center

Filling Silence With Community

Shirley remembers a time, not that long ago, when silence filled the majority of her days.

When she first moved to JCI Gardens in the South Bay nine years ago, she was eager to settle into the independent style of living offered by the senior housing facility managed by LTSC. But when the pandemic hit, she suddenly found herself grappling with the effects of confinement and limited socialization, witnessing the same among many of her neighbors who, like her, live alone.

“When COVID first started, everyone was isolated. I had no interaction and just stayed up in my room alone, watching videos,” she shared.

A few months before the pandemic, knowing the benefits of keeping seniors socially connected, LTSC welcomed Cheryl to the JCI Gardens staff as the new Senior Activities Coordinator. And while Cheryl initially pivoted the new programming to keep seniors safe, activities have now returned in-person, something Shirley takes advantage of every chance she gets.

She and her fellow residents enjoy access to a weekly program of recreational activities, social gatherings, and group outings, with many benefitting from the ability to communicate in their native language. Shirley looks forward to spending time with a group of fellow Japanese- speaking women, who she connects with over shared life experiences and health tips.

“I try to participate as much as possible. If we didn’t have these activities, I never would have talked to or known any of these ladies, I would have just stayed up in my room. But now, I can just come downstairs and have a conversation with them,” she said. “We like to talk about the old days; how we came to America, how we grew up, our families. We hear so many amazing stories of what people have been through.”

Sitting around a table with coffee and pastries in hand every Friday morning, they laugh and smile as they reminisce about where they’ve been and how, through everything, they’ve come to be together now.

LTSC’s senior activities have allowed Shirley to once again feel connected with her community. As the program goes on, and she continues to stay active and engaged with her newfound friends through activities like chair yoga and raijo taiso, she hopes that others will join and see the immense value of what the program has to offer.

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