As spring starts to roll into San Diego, we welcome the warmer days and bright colors of the season. At our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, we have something colorful in bloom as well. Hosted by one of our own senior clients, Coloring with Karen offers seniors a unique experience to unwind with art and unleash their creativity. With a teaching career that spans over four decades, Karen now uses her time and talent to foster creative endeavors among her peers.

Originally from the East Coast, Karen has been a San Diego local for the last twenty years and has served as an art teacher in four separate districts throughout San Diego County. Two years ago, she happened to find the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center while she was out for a walk, but her immediate connection to the facility kept her coming back. “I was exploring the neighborhood and found the staff to be friendly, open, and gracious. I was really impressed with how easily I felt comfortable.”

One of our staff members, Karin, has made a continuous impression on her. “She’s the cornerstone. She is such a warm welcoming connection and resource for everything. She is just there for everyone.” 

Since discovering the Wellness Center, Karen has enjoyed meals in our congregate dining hall and many of the activities that are offered onsite as well. “I have a beautiful set of earrings from a beading workshop that I attended. That was wonderful.” This activity she recalled very fondly, because of the unique volunteer leaders who comprised of a father and his two daughters. “It was really great to see a father bring his daughters into this environment and give them that culture. Give them that connection with sharing with elders.

Now a volunteer herself, Karen enjoys fostering talent and supporting other creatives. Though on a waitlist for new housing, she made sure to stay within proximity to the Wellness Center and continues to show her commitment to the community. Not only through her art class, but by volunteering to serve meals in the congregate dining hall that originally brought her in! We love seeing a story that comes full circle!

Karen's Story: Artistic Altruism