As we near our 8th month of social distancing, community members are getting more creative and motivated to diminish their feelings of isolation.  The Scotts Valley Senior Life Association (SVSLA) has been concerned for the mental health of its members since the pandemic started, but particularly as it drags on.  To combat this separation, the SVSLA has begun weekly Zoom workshops, many featuring community speakers, to check in with their seniors.  Vice President George Haas and President Dave Hodgin have spruced up their Monday afternoon with presentations from Ross Eric Gibson, noted Santa Cruz historian, Danny Reber, Executive Director, SV Chamber of Commerce, Greg Pepping, Executive Director of the Coastal Watershed Council, and Eden Israel, “Sing Along with Eden.”

Haas proudly described the program’s growing interest, “It seems like at first everybody was getting a bit zoomed out, but since we’ve come back we’ve been steadily building an audience.” Depending on the speaker, about 15 to 20 members attend the workshops, “some of which are solely check-ins and others present relevant information.”  Haas has expanded the sessions by also offering Zoom training sessions for seniors, “I call and talk them through their options, then invite them to a private zoom meeting.  I’ll prepare them to go out into the zoom world, and invite them to our workshops.”

Most recently, the SVSLA hosted Fifth District Supervisor, Bruce McPherson.  He had quite a lot to cover, between updates on COVID, fire and evacuation information, County budgetary issues, and a Senior Community Initiative.  McPherson, like any other public official, did not yet have exact plans for rebuilding Santa Cruz County after the CZU Lightning Fire Complex, but he did reassure attendees, “It’s going to be a long road back, but we’re going to try to make it as easy and compassionate as we can.”  Amongst plans for recovery the Supervisor mentioned creating additional fire breaks in Scotts Valley, responsible timber harvesting, and a “potential ordinance to protect against price gouging.” 

The workshop will soon host the Press Banner’s own Doctor Terry Hollenbeck next week!  They also have tentative plans for Dr. John B. MacMillan, UCSC Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who will discuss UCSC involvement with COVID testing programs.  On top of fascinating and important topics, attending the SVSLA Zoom Workshops offers a great sene of community.  Whether you tune in to connect with fellow seniors, or just want to check up on Dave Hodgin’s fluffy black cat, it’s a great use for a Monday afternoon.   Check out for more information on the nonprofit.  If you’d like to sign up for the weekly Monday workshop at 4 p.m., email !

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