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People We Love: Lila Botero

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. 


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