Lakers Visit Long Beach Senior Center
When you put turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, Wii bowling, Mike Brown, A.C. Green, the Laker Girls and a bunch of enthusiastic senior citizens in a room, good things are going to happen.
Indeed, on Thursday evening at the Long Beach Senior Citizens Center, several Lakers staff members enjoyed the most recent Team Up initiative, this time in correlation with the organization's "A Season of Giving."
"This is the fifth year that the Lakers and East West Bank have worked together on “A Season of Giving,” and we could not be more pleased," said Jason McDevitt, Lakers head of community relations. "This year’s visit to the Long Beach Senior Center was a chance to show that we appreciate the support we receive from Lakers fans of all ages and all parts of the Southland."
"It's been a very exciting day, just to think that we have the Lakers here represented," said Shelley Hellen, the supervisor at the Senior Center. "That's not an every day occurrence, but probably a once in a lifetime event for these seniors. We're all bubbling with happiness about this."
After an introduction from Lakers television voice Billy Macdonald, Brown showed off his coaching abilities by leading the Thanksgiving dinner buffet line — courtesy of Lucille's Bar-B-Que — as the staffers prepared plates that were then distributed by the staffers to the seniors at their tables. While the seniors were eating, Brown showed that as much success as he's had on the basketball floor, he's better at working a room.
There wasn't a single table that didn't get conversation, laughs, photos and autographs from Brown.
"I just really enjoy interacting with these people," Brown explained. "It was so much fun exchanging stories, talking hoops, joking back and forth. We're always happy to be at these events with members of our extended community, and I do have a soft spot for the seniors."
In fact, Brown could be seen working on a defensive stance … with an 83-year-old man. Not bad.
When the meal had been devoured, the seniors played games on the Wii, played cards and sang a bit of karaoke, the latter of which Brown and Green opted to avoid. Also particularly adept at hanging out with the seniors was Billy Mac, who offered the final words of the evening as the Lakers staffers handed out gift bags.
Not lost upon those that visited the Senior Center is what it really means for the elderly.
"Seniors come here to have fun, to get help, to make friends and to keep relationships going, to play games and to learn," said Hellen. "They come here to volunteer as well, to be able to contribute back to the community. It makes them feel good about themselves to give back."
With limited staff members and volunteers, the Long Beach Senior Center aims to simply help seniors in whatever ways it can.
"People out there in the community who need help, whether it's filling out (health) forms, issues with food, feelings of isolation, transportation issues and so on, we can help solve those problems and establish a base of social networking where they can build friendships and have fun," Hellen concluded.
Important work, truly, a Thanksgiving taste of which the Lakers were lucky to gain.