Giant birthday bash benefits programs at S.F.s Montefiore

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Montefiore Senior Center is now firmly entrenched in middle age.

Last month, the organization celebrated its 46th birthday with a bash at the San Francisco Marriott that included dinner, a silent auction and a special guest appearance by Mayor Willie Brown.

Speaking impromptu as he often does, Brown spoke of possible plans to make Muni free to senior passengers and congratulated Montefiore on reaching 46.

"This is exactly the kind of organization we want to promote and showcase in San Francisco," he said.

Items auctioned at the December event included dinner at the Cliff House and tickets to "Beach Blanket Babylon" and American Conservatory Theater. Proceeds — nearly $9,000 was raised — will benefit the center's various programs.

Montefiore, which is based at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and also offers programs at the city's Congregation Ner Tamid, has grown in scope and size over the years.

It now serves some 400 members who range in age from their late 50s to their mid-90s. Many additional seniors, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, partake in the center's offerings as nonmembers.

"We are so diverse," said Linda Skolnik, coordinator of senior services, programs and volunteers at Montefiore. "We're serving all types of seniors, from the real active to the frail ones whom we're trying to keep out of nursing homes."

The center serves the frail through such services as home-delivered meals. Active seniors participate in a variety of activities including seminars and outings, a daily kosher lunch program and classes in writing, art, literature, aerobics, yoga and tai chi.

Many of the younger members are drawn to the center out of a growing concern about and awareness of wellness and preventative medicine, according to Skolnik.

In conjunction with such major health care and insurance providers as Aetna, Signa and Prudential, the center now offers free classes on such topics as sleeping well, memory and arthritis.

This month, the center will initiate a support group for seniors contending with sight loss.

Earlier this year, Montefiore moved its members into cyberspace with the center's online resource center. The database allows seniors to explore housing options, access financial advice and find information on health and psychological issues.

"We're a senior center looking ahead to the next century," said Skolnik, "and how to serve our future seniors the best that we can."

Leslie Katz
Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is the former culture editor at CNET and a former J. staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @lesatnews.