25 Years of Fellowship

For 25 years, the Senior Fellowship at Wintersburg Presbyterian Church has been a space for community, support, and fellowship among older adults. What started as a group of 35 members has now grown to over 100 in numbers, with participants coming from both the church and the surrounding Japanese American, ethnic Japanese and Asian American communities.

The history of the fellowship has also intertwined with Keiro’s, as the two have collaborated throughout the years to provide programming and support for older adults in Our Community. Claire Seki, the current coordinator of the Senior Fellowship program, shared, “Over the years, our senior fellowship has enjoyed the programs offered by Keiro—speakers, entertainers, and the supportive programs for leaders.”

A Dynamic Partnership

The early days of the partnership began when Keiro started the Adult Day Center at the church campus. From there, the Senior Fellowship began collaborating with Keiro when the two groups started inviting each other to attend special programming or guest speaker events at their respective campuses.

Keiro and Wintersburg later continued to work together through Keiro’s evidence-based programs. These programs, such as Memory Kai and A Matter of Balance, informed older adults about aging-related topics like memory training and fall prevention. “They invited several of us from various churches and community organizations in Los Angeles and Orange County to become coaches,” Claire explained. “After we received our certificates, we then shared the classes with our own groups.”

Together Through Unprecedented Changes

“Currently with the pandemic and everyone isolated, I think the partnership between our senior organizations and Keiro is really important,” Claire said. “Keiro has stepped in wonderfully with helping seniors use their computers and even their smartphones—you would be surprised at how many of my seniors have expanded their horizons with Keiro’s instructions on how to use Zoom.”

Claire shared that online speakers and the ever-popular virtual bingo have also helped motivate older adults in the fellowship to learn more about using their devices. Members of the fellowship put these skills to use while attending the Senior Fellowship’s Zoom meetings, church service, and other church activities, which continues to provide virtual programming and a space for socialization.

Leaders from the fellowship have also attended meetings of Keiro’s Nikkei Senior Network, a gathering for organizations within the community to share ideas and support during the pandemic. “Those are really good,” Claire noted. “I hear things and think, ‘Wow, I’d like to try that!’ We also hear how others may need assistance with their programs, and we try to help them out too. It’s a network; it’s a family caring for others, and I’m all for that.”

Partnering to Benefit All

With this rich history of collaboration continuing into the present, Wintersburg’s Senior Fellowship and Keiro look to how they can continue benefiting older adults in years to come. Claire commented on the ties that have grown between the two organizations, explaining, “Each organization becomes a resource and a support system for the other. Partnering forms a strong bond, a cohesive network, that ultimately benefits everyone—from the larger organizations like Keiro, to the leaders of senior programs at the local level, and ultimately the seniors. We all benefit.”