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  • Staff report

Grandparent’s Day dance reveals special community in the EPCC Senior Adult Program

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

BY ABIGAIL BELL

Summer Nights Senior Performers. (Courtesy photo from EPCC Senior Adult Program)


EPCC recently held its 19th Grandparents Day event on Sept. 9 th at the ASC building auditorium, put on by the Senior Adult Program and sponsored by Humana.


The Grandparents Day event had about 400 people present and participating. The event aimed at bringing awareness to grandparent’s day and giving seniors a place to celebrate this underrated day.


Mary Yanez, the director of SAP for the past 34 years, shared her heart for the event saying, “I

would like for grandparent’s day, to be celebrated as energetically, as enthusiastically, as

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.”


She went on to say that she wants the community to show gratefulness to their grandparents,

“They opened doors for you, they knocked down doors, they crashed down doors, they

sacrificed, they dreamed for you.”

It was an event full of fun and laughter, with performances from the Omar Dey Show, the SAP

Chorus Mi Terra and more.


(L-R) Dance Students, Cathy Hinojosa (Frenchy), Blanche Acuna (Rizzo), Lupe Torres (Cha-cha)


(Courtesy photo from EPCC Senior Adult Program)


A highlight of the event was a dance performance of “Summer Nights” from “Grease”, put on by members of the SAP dance classes and choreographed by SAP dance instructor, Trish

Laskowske.


The dance was a tribute to the musical “Grease”, complete with characters such as Rizzo, Cha-Cha, and Frenchy, as well as the T-Birds and other Pink Ladies.


When Yanez proposed the idea of doing a dance for an event to Laskowske, the dance instructor was thrilled to put it together.


“My students have tons of talent because they have a lifetime of experiences,” Laskowske said.


The dancers responded with enthusiasm when their instructor told them about it. The dance

students made costumes, practiced and put their all into the performance.


T-Birds for Summer Nights Performance.


(Courtesy photo from EPCC Senior Adult Program)


“I never thought at my age I’d be doing that, so it’s great,” said Lupe Torres, a dance class

student who used to teach second graders and do play productions with them.


In expressing her gratefulness and excitement, dance student Reyna Montano said, “Our best

moves in life are on God’s dance floor I give glory to Him for allowing us at this age to still

wake up and have breath.”


Many of the seniors expressed their gratitude to SAP for having a grandparents day event where they felt included, seen and celebrated.


“A lot of the ladies here have so many gifts and we are just itching to pass it to the next generation,” said dance student Miriam De la Vega. “The problem is they see the gray hair and they see the wrinkles and they say, ‘well, what good are they for’ and so to me, Grandparents Day is to bring in memory and to bring, you know, what we have been missing all this time from our grandchildren.”


Pink Ladies for Summer Nights Performance. (Courtesy photo from EPCC Senior Adult Program)


In addition to excitement about the performance and event, the dance students expressed how grateful they are to have a place to exercise and socialize with other seniors. Whether retired or still working, the dance classes have helped their physical, mental and social health.


“When I retired this is what I found that helped get me out of my house and to socialize with

other people that are in the same place that I am,” said dance student Dora Delarosa.


“I’ve met the best people doing this,” said Nellie Lopez, a dance student and four-time cancer

survivor. Lopez said that Laskowske’s dance class has been beneficial for her health after going through so many cancer treatments.


The students also expressed their gratitude for Laskowske, who has been teaching dance in El Paso for 42 years and has been with SAP for 35 years.


“Trish is an awesome instructor, and she lets us be creative,” said student Cathy Hinojosa.

Mary Headley said she started dancing when she was 40 years old, “It’s never too late to learn,” she said.

Dance Students with Instructor Laskowske. (Courtesy photo from EPCC Senior Adult Program)


The SAP community is important to the seniors who participate in the many different classes.

The seniors are enthusiastic about continuing their education and socializing with others.

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, 10,000 people turn 65 in the

U.S. every day. Resources such as SAP give senior citizens in the community a place to connect and thrive.


“It keeps us active; you know, it gives us something to look forward to and get up out of bed and say, I gotta go, I gotta go,” said dance student Chris Porter.


“We never know how old we’re going to get, but as we’re getting old, and we need to keep active this is the one thing that is enjoyable to do.”

Many of the seniors shared their experience of feeling neglected and pushed aside.


“So many times, the seniors are pushed aside. I’ve felt it a lot, you know, and it’s nice to actually be somewhere where you’re around other seniors,” said dance student Blanche Acuna.

Seniors dancing at class. (Photo by Abigail Bell )

In light of these shared feelings of neglect amongst seniors, Yanez is passionate about serving seniors to better the community.


“You can be as smart as you are now, knowledge is ageless, you can continue learning until the day you die. You can enjoy your time, your free time, if you’re retired. But if you’re working, you can continue growing. It doesn’t have to be like the end,” she said.


She is dedicated to continuing to keep the program running and the students thriving because she believes it is important to seniors in El Paso and in surrounding communities.


“We provide a way by which they can continue engaging, continue learning, continue developing and staying healthy for longevity,” she said.


The Grandparents Day event and “Summer Nights” performance was a reminder of how much El Paso seniors appreciate this program and the community it provides.


“You feel like you’ve found another family,” said dance student Rosemary Leiman.


The Senior Adult program currently offers 60 free classes in subjects such as dance, technology and art to 55 years and older students. All the classes can be found at


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