Members of the Ramona Gardens Senior Citizens Club had just that opportunity this week, when 14th district Councilman José Huízar dropped by for lunch during their weekly get together.
Over a plate of fried chicken, rice, beans and salads, several of the mostly female members of the club exchanged anecdotes in Spanish about their native lands with the Mexico-born politician, who reminisced about his ranchito; his hometown of Los Morales in Jerez, Zacatecas.
The visit was organized by Maggie Aguilar, president of the Ramona Gardens Residents Advisory Council, who hosts the seniors at the trailer her group shares with other agencies that provide services at the housing complex. Every Wednesday morning, the seniors gather for café y pan dulce, some very competitive Lotería games and knitting and embroidery sessions.
“Some of these seniors I’ve known for years and it’s great to see friendly faces,” Huízar said after the event. “It’s great to see that here in Ramona Gardens they have a place to meet, to have activities and to eat, and I wish and hope that all the seniors throughout the city have a place like this.”
When Huízar asked the seniors about their most pressing needs, one of the members of the club said that a major problem for Ramona Gardens residents is the lack of a nearby supermarket. The councilman responded that his office had worked with the Northgate Supermarket chain to open a new store near the corner of César Chávez and Soto and offered to bring a representative from the business to speak to the group and offer shuttle service from the store. He also said he would look into attracting a business to open a supermarket closer to Ramona Gardens.
When the councilman asked about something he could do specifically for the seniors in Ramona Gardens, Aguilar told him that the club members had asked her to look into the possibility of restoring a decades-old mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe painted on the wall of one of the complex’s apartment buildings. The paint has faded over the years but it’s where residents hold the yearly celebration to the Virgin, and one of the seniors said it would be nice if the work is completed before her feast day on Dec. 12.
“The market is a long-term [enterprise], but the mural restoration is very doable,” said Huízar, who told the seniors that his office would take on the project. “We’re going to restore the mural, and we’re going to work on the market.”
The mural promise was welcome by several of the seniors. “Somos guadalupanas,” said one of the club members, pointing to a painting of the Virgin hanging on a trailer wall.