SARATOGA SPRINGS — Speed dating, socializing, soup– there’s no question that Fridays are changing at the Adult and Senior Center of Saratoga. That’s all thanks to “Soup”er Social Fridays.
“Fridays used to be so quiet in here,” said Lois Celeste, Executive Director. “Now we have over 250 people coming through the door.”
During “Soup”er Social Fridays, members can buy a cup of homemade soup for $2 and enjoy either a cultural art, educational or social event. So far, the Center has brought in educational presentations on Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell, Wills vs. Trusts, a “speed friending” event and more.
“Soup”er Social Fridays, which launched in January 2017, was developed in response to a survey the Center sent out in December to gain more insight into member needs. The results showed a strong demand for more food and social networking opportunities.
At the core of this demand is the changing face of seniors, according to Celeste.
“The baby boomers are here,” said Celeste. “They are very active physically and mentally, and like programs and activities that speak to their interests. We have rebuilt the center physically and programmatically to appeal to seniors of all ages, interests, and abilities with everything from art and yoga classes to bingo, international trips, and the classical arts. We have it all.”
The Center also brings in a local restaurant each month to prepare dinner for its members for $12 per person. This is usually a sold-out event that brings in about 100 seniors, according to Celeste. They also do a Take-Out Dinner every Monday with Village Pizzeria.
In addition to providing an outlet for the active boomer demographic, “Soup”er Social Fridays also appeals to the member population who would otherwise have little social interaction throughout the day without these programs.
One of those people is Bonny Clark, who recently joined the Senior Center.
“I like coming here for soup,” says Clark. “If I wasn’t here, I would be eating at home alone.”
Unfortunately, this is not a unique case. University of Georgia research recently looked at 3,530 people age 60 and older and found those who reported being chronically lonely had more doctor visits. A recent University of California-San Francisco study said older adults who described themselves as lonely have a 59 percent greater risk of functional decline and a 45 percent greater risk of death.
The Senior Center hopes to continue to decrease this number with programs like “Soup”er Social Fridays.
“The essential point is that people want to be together and build a sense of community. Our staff and volunteers at The Saratoga Senior Center are working to bring all seniors together in a fun, supportive environment,” said Celeste.