Lila Botero was seeking structure. She was recently retired and forced to stay home due to a global pandemic. She found herself starting to drift – sometimes reading until 6am – and unmoored without the routine and community her work as a parish administrator had provided.
All that changed when she got an email from AARP.
How did you first find out about Senior Planet?
I heard about Senior Planet once the pandemic made us all home-bound. Before that I was exercising regularly and I missed it. I’m a member of AARP, so I received an email advertising free Senior Planet exercise classes. I picked an exercise class happening the next afternoon to try out…the afternoon because I just retired, so I thought “no way I am waking up early for this!!”
But I liked it so much – the following morning I was at the 9am class.
“Once I started taking Senior Planet classes, it put me in a routine. I structured my day around it.”
What did you like about the exercise classes?
The biggest benefit is the routine. I was sleeping too much! I hit a breaking point in retirement – sometimes I would read overnight. It was 6am and I was turning off the lights.
Once I started taking Senior Planet classes, it put me in a routine. I structured my day around it.
How did you become a volunteer and then a staff member?
They needed help from Spanish speakers, and I know how hard it is to find volunteers, so I offered my time. I started by volunteering once or twice a week for the NYCHA Connected program and before long they offered me a job!
“It’s amazing to see how much people have improved.”
How are you enjoying being on the other side of things?
It’s been a beautiful experience, I love working here.
I’m co-hosting meetings and trying to build up a big group of Spanish-speaking participants in the Aerobics class. It’s amazing to see how much people have improved – there’s no age for learning!
What does aging with attitude mean to you?
Aging with attitude means that I’m happy, I’m on top of everything, and I’m open to learning. I think humans learn every day until the day we die.