Seniors: Bored Expand your horizons, says JCCSFs adult program manager

Some call it the golden years, some call it “elderhood,” some call it the cocktail hour of life, but regardless of what they call it, many seniors wonder what to do after retirement.

Shiva Schulz, manager of adult programs at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, has some suggestions: “Get out of the house. Socialize with other people. Expand your horizons.”

Schulz makes all that easy. She has developed numerous programs at the JCC for older adults, including concerts, lectures, job-strategy sessions, book groups, wellness classes, driver training, matinee movie screenings and a handful of Jewish-themed events, including an annual Yizkor service.

Shiva Schulz

Schulz also has initiated two daylong seminars at the JCC for seniors: “The Art of Financial Well Being Resources Fair,” set for Nov. 29, and the popular “The Art of Aging Gracefully Resource Fair,“ which drew more than 400 people at the fifth annual event this spring, which was sponsored by UCSF Medical Center.

On July 25, the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women honored Schulz for her work over the years on that event, with a proclamation and reception at San Francisco City Hall.

“Working with UCSF Medical Center, we are already planning for next year’s event on April 25,” Schulz said. “We’ll provide speakers plus resources from local businesses and nonprofit groups, all addressing wellness, aging, health screenings, medical research, exercise and much more.”

The schedule for adult programs — open to JCC members and and nonmembers alike — varies week to week. Most of the events are free, with the exception of the kosher lunch program, available Sunday through Friday, and day trips and overnight trips out of San Francisco. The most recent outing included a visit to the Petaluma Historical Museum and to a sheep farm run by a young couple who make cheese. The next one, on Aug. 18, heads  to the Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Glen Ellen and Sonoma Valley Museum.

Hundreds turn out for “The Art of Aging Gracefully Resource Fair,” a daylong event started by Shiva Schulz of the JCCSF.

Schulz, who declined to give her age, will mark her 10th year with the JCC this September. She is most proud of her collaborations with local arts organizations, and hopes to expand those relationships. “Bringing in people from the San Francisco Opera, the symphony, the chamber orchestra and the art museums is beneficial for us and for them,” she said.

Schulz also is pleased about programs that have developed organically, such as the knitting group started by a social work intern, a current events group started by a retired lawyer and a group sing-along led by a JCC member.

Another “organic” program is “On the Other Hand,” a session on Jewish comedy presented by Ralph Beren, 78. “I love it when people laugh,” Beren said. ”Shiva had me back four times, so I guess I did well enough.” 

Gilda Schine, who said she is “85 going on 39,” particularly enjoys the art lecture series that Schulz developed. “The museums always send knowledgeable, wonderful speakers,” she said. “I try to take most of the classes Shiva offers, and I see people of all nationalities, religions and ethnic backgrounds. … I love it.”

Impressed with “the depth and breadth of the audiences” at Schulz’s programs, JCC member Joan Kaplan, co-chair of “Conversations about Art” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, sought out the opportunity to collaborate. “We had been looking for venues with diverse community, to have a chance to engage with them,” Kaplan said. She has spoken several times at the art lecture series, about museum exhibitions and about modern art in general.

Prior to her job at the JCCSF, Schulz, who has a master’s degree in social work from U.C. Berkeley, helped people with developmental disabilities find employment. She was laid off due to state budget cuts.

When she started at the JCC, the senior programs office was offsite, located where the early childhood education program is located now, next to Menorah Park. While the new JCC building was under construction, Schulz’s office was moved to an Orthodox temple.

“In the early days, I was more in the mode of doing what had been done, and it was harder to get a sense of what lay ahead,” Schulz said. “But once in the new building, it was a new environment, and there was a real convergence of people with new ideas, people open to providing more opportunities for the staff and for the people we serve.

“Now it is really rewarding to put efforts into planning and later hear people tell us how much they enjoyed the programs,” she said. “We give people the opportunity to be with others who also choose to be here, and also to develop friendships. Seniors are looking for that — and they do find it here.”

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