An Open House & Family Caregiver Holiday Party was held Thursday at the new Friendship Center on Fairview Avenue in Goleta. The care center shares the space with Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and it appears to be a good fit.

The first Friendship Center was established 30 years ago on the property of All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito. Both centers provide professional, compassionate and affordable adult day programs. Services were also needed in the Goleta area, so the Montecito-based center board and staff responded with the expansion. The new space is surrounded by oak and citrus trees and has an outdoorsy feel.

“Friendly” was the name of the game at the holiday-themed event with seniors, caregivers, supporters, family members and even “pet pals” enjoying the ambiance and good spirit. About 100 guests mingled around the outdoor patio area surrounded by citrus and oak trees, enjoying hors d’oeuvres, wine and coffees. Open doors to two large multipurpose rooms gives the center an open, friendly feel.

The Friendship Center is the only nonprofit adult day services program on the South Coast, serving the community’s elder and dependent adults, many with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease or early memory loss. Services include communal meals, exercise, socialization, singing, arts and crafts, and mentally stimulating activities in a supervised and secured environment.

Social services coordinator Rose Grey said the newly opened Goleta center has a goal to serve 40 elders a day (25 are already enrolled). Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Monday through Friday. Fees are on a sliding scale, ranging from $30 to $90 per day. Qualified veterans and Tri-Counties Regional Center clients are eligible for reduced fees.

“We have an active community here. There are sing-alongs and dancing. SBCC students regularly come to play the piano and sing with the seniors,” Grey said. “In addition, we have a Connections Club, which meets on Wednesdays from 10 to 2. It is for people who are suffering from memory loss. We select a topic like ‘the seasons.’ Participants share their memories of seasons. Although short-term memory is more often limited, most can share older memories.”

There were many supporters at the holiday open house who are involved in the Montecito Friendship Center, including board President Marty Moore, Executive Director Heidi Holly, Dave Raber, Roger Aceves, Mary Walsh, Ken Jewesson, Dr. David Medina, Daryl West, Kathy Marden and Selma Rubin. Holly, program and family services director Susan Forkush and Live Oak parish minister Erika Hewitt have been active in setting up the new center.

Dressed in holiday attire, Toni Parnam joined the fun with her dog, Missy, who was dutifully sporting reindeer ears.

“The Friendship Center has been great experience for my aunt Vivian Stock,” Parnam said. “I am 100 percent behind what the center does for our seniors.”

For more information, click here or call 805.959.0859. The Goleta Friendship Center, a licensed facility, is located at 820 N. Fairview Ave.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.