OCEANSIDE — The much-anticipated Senior Expo took place at El Corazon Senior Center on Oct. 13 with one noticeable change — no award for Senior of the Year was given. This was not due to a shortage of deserving seniors. The award has been given for the past 14 years and each year there are numerous nominations of seniors who have served the city through outstanding volunteer service.
This year a change in event planners did not allow sufficient time to determine the Senior of the Year.
The city could not afford to host the expo due to budget cuts, so the Chamber of Commerce stepped up and took over the event.
The Chamber of Commerce filled 50 vender booths and booked an afternoon of live entertainment, but did not have ample time or resources to select the Senior of the Year.
“We don’t run the senior center,” said Kristi Hawthorne, Chamber of Commerce event coordinator. “We don’t know all the seniors there.”
The job of soliciting nominations from the community, reviewing them, and narrowing them down to a final few to be voted on by an ad hoc committee is usually done by the Senior Commission, which works very closely with the Parks and Recreation Department.
This commission was disbanded by the City Council last year.
“We post notices throughout the city at recreation centers and send press releases to senior communities to enlist people to nominate someone,” Pam Montanez, recreation supervisor, said. “They usually have done city service for years and years and are well known in the community.”
Montanez said she feels it’s a positive that the Senior Expo was able to continue.
“It’s a great thing to continue the expo seamlessly,” she said. “We’re still very excited to know the Senior Expo is coming.”
Parks and Recreation division manager Eileen Turk said she hopes the tradition of recognizing the Senior of the Year will be reinstated next year.
“We get beautiful letters of support for high caliber people,” Turk said. “A lot of people know how important seniors are. There are 40,000 seniors in Oceanside. They make a big impact as a voting population.”
Turk said seniors give their service to remain active and involved in the community and count on city services to avoid isolation and loneliness.
“Seniors are concerned about their quality of life and not having services cut,” Turk said.
Previously the reigning Senior of the Year received a plaque and was recognized during the Senior Expo and the annual volunteer thank you luncheon.
The award was also a way for the community to publicly thank seniors for all they contribute to the community. It is not known if the award will be given next year.