Tickets are now available for the very popular Annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser! Because this event had experienced phenomenal support from the community in the past, it was necessary to move it to Palm View Community Center in McAllen two years ago. It has a larger capacity for dining and parking.

This important fundraiserís proceeds add to the Center Activity Fund which helps with additional senior citizen programs at the three McAllen Community Centers. It will be held on Saturday, Jan. 23, from 8 to 11 a.m. Thereíll be musicians and dancers entertaining while enjoying breakfast. The groups performing are the Ballet Folklorico, The Conjunto Las Palmas, and The Silver Boots Line Dancers. Their performances will be delightful.

As in the past, the breakfast includes pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, juice and coffee. For only $3, you can enjoy breakfast, entertainment, and support our senior citizen programs. If you donít want to dine in, you can take it to go.

The funds derived help provide a great number of activities included as part of the senior programs at the Community Centers that would not otherwise be offered. You do not have to be a resident of McAllen in order to participate in the senior programs.

This year, the breakfast is sponsored by Dennyís and R-Install Co. and a heartfelt thank you to these generous contributors. Additional sponsors are needed. Any local businesses or individuals wishing to contribute towards this very worthwhile cause should contact Samm Mercado at 681-3350 immediately.

You can purchase tickets in advance at any of the McAllen Community Centers or at the door on the morning of the breakfast. The three centers include Las Palmas Community Center at 1921 North 25th Street, Phone 681-3350, Lark Community Center at 2601 Lark Ave., Phone 681-3340, and Palm View Community Center at 3401 Jordan Road, Phone 681-3360. (The pancake breakfast will only be served at the Palm View Community Center!)

The City of McAllen Parks and Recreation Department operates the community centers and oversees all events. Iíd like to extend a warm welcome to Sally Gavlik, the new director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Although the centers offer activities for all ages, they are a focal point and meeting place for our age 50+ citizens to participate in educational, recreational, and fun activities.

The goal of the centers is to provide an environment that promotes socialization, independence and a healthy lifestyle. As an example, the centers provide varied exercise programs such as Senior Stretch, Yoga, and Senior Dance Fitness. Other programs include health oriented educational presentations, arts and craft classes such as ceramics, quilting, sewing, and floral arrangement. Many seniors also participate in musical groups, basketball, volleyball, billiards, card games, bridge, chess, and dominoes.

Every month, a live band provides the venue for dancing. Trips to museums, Padre Island, and other interesting sites are also part of the monthly activities. To participate at any of the centers, you must be age 50 and older. Registration is required, but there is no membership fee.

The centers also provide information about resources in the community for seniors in need of assistance. These include social, and health care services, transportation, emergency assistance, housing, senior organizations, senior employment, crime prevention and financial management.

Additionally, the centers serve a lunch Monday through Friday for a voluntary nominal donation at all three locations. It is available to registrants age 60 and older. For those seniors who are homebound, Las Palmas Community Center coordinates delivering the lunch meal to the home every weekday. The meals are provided by Amigos del Valle.

The centers are striving to provide free transportation for McAllen Senior Citizen residents who do not have access to transportation. Anyone who would like to participate at the centers, but lack transportation, please call Las Palmas Community Center at 681-3350.

Again, the event is Saturday, January 23 at the Palm View Community Center at 3401 Jordan Rd. (two lights south of the expressway on Ware Road), between 8 and 11 a.m. (Phone 681-3360). For advance tickets, call any of the centers, or purchase at the door on the day of the event.

I encourage my readers for their continued support to keep the diverse activities available for our seniors. We benefit as a community when we provide a healthy, positive environment for our citizens.

Finally, for anyone interested in sharing their talents and time as a volunteer, please call one of the centers. There is always a need for those who want to teach a class or assist with some of the events.

Mary Garza Cummings is a freelance writer. The Town Crier does not warrant the information as valid. It is the responsibility of the reader to ensure validity of the information. For comments, email askseniorfocus@aol.com