Seniors celebrate with dance and gift party

HOLIDAY GIFT PARTY — (center) Jack Runyon and (left) Laura Jacobs enjoys their visit from Santa aka Rick Dominguez who had all 79 Sunnyside Assisted Living Center residents on his Christmas list as seniors received their blanket gift and holiday card Wednesday afternoon.

SUNNYSIDE — The holidays are a great time to dance, drink and be merry with friends and family, and that is exactly what the residents at the Sunnyside Assisted Living Center did last Wednesday.

Dozens of the residents, decked out in festive red sweaters and dresses, gathered for a holiday party, prepared to eat sweets, pick out their blanket gift, receive a holiday card made by Chief Kamiakin Elementary School students and dance the afternoon away.

The blanket drive, organized by Internet Radio DJ Emilio Diaz for the 79 seniors, brought in more than 100 blankets, in which the extra blankets will be given to a coinciding drive for the homeless in the area.

Todd Krause, Washington House of Reverent Sons of the Rebel Knights Guild member, donated on behalf of his chapter the remaining 34 blankets that were needed to reach the goal of 79.

“Part of our chapter bylaws is to find an organization each quarter that we can promote positivity to by donating and fundraising,” Krause explained.

In addition to his work as a member of the Rebel Knights Guild, Krause is also a clinical nurse supervisor at Astria Health. “Being a part of this is just another aspect of healthcare that I can help with.”

The blankets were distributed to the seniors by Santa, a.k.a. Rick Trujillo, Diaz’ brother.

Some of the more outgoing residents sat on Santa’s lap while picking out the blanket they desired from the various designs, while the rest of the seniors waited for Santa to make his rounds to the more reserved residents.

Reserved is not a word associated with Hope, one of the residents of the Sunnyside Assisted Living Center. Affectionately referred to as “Hopey,” she was full of energy and a dancing machine. Even while she was eating a cookie, she was singing every word and moving her feet to the beat of each song, only taking a break to sit down and sip on some of the spiced rum eggnog.

When “I Heard It Through the Grape Vine” came on, she exclaimed it was her favorite song and made her way out onto the dance floor.

Hope’s male dancing counterpart was Robert, who didn’t say much, but couldn’t stop smiling with a grin from ear to ear and did not miss a single song that DJ Diaz played.

Once she sat down to take a break, Hope was asked about the blanket drive and what it meant to her.

“I just want to thank everyone for everything they did to put this on. We can never have enough blankets,” she said with a smile.

“Once we come here, a lot of us don’t have family that visit, you know. They always say they’re going to make time and come and visit, but most of the time it doesn’t happen,” she said.

“But everyone here is friends and we’re a big family. And I have my Chihuahua with me here,” Hope said with a laugh.

There is talk of Diaz putting on a dance once a week for the seniors to engage in, something Hope and many of the other seniors were excited to hear about.

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