Archive for the ‘Buena Vida’ Category

Cheers & Tears at ¡Celebre Buena Vida!

April 10, 2012

BVFlags More than 210 guests gathered at the historic Camino Real Hotel in El Paso to celebrate the Buena Vida Adult Day Center and El Paso’s Foster In Texas (FIT) children and their families. The March 29thevent was an art show, video fest, award show, live auction, and dinner among friends, all rolled into one.

This is the eighth year İCelebre la Buena Vida! has raised funds for the Buena Vida Center and the first year Foster In Texas in El Paso has been included in the event. Buena Vida serves more than 100 low-income elderly and disabled El Paso citizens annually, nearly half of whom have Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related illnesses. FIT parents rely on LSS and community support to help them provide clothing, school supplies, training, and specialized therapy for the area’s children who have been victims of traumatic emotional and physical abuse.

One highlight of İCelebre la Buena Vida! is the auction of wooden “houses” painted and decorated by local artists. This year the 80+ beautiful houses were declared more creative than ever, with some fashioned into mirrors and key holders.  Ellie Fenton of El Paso Inc. presented the newspaper’s “Home Sweet El Paso Award” to Enrique Woo for his house, “Coming  Back Home.”

Other highlights of the night:

BVkurtpodium· LSS CEO Dr. Kurt Senske and Buena Vida director Steven Lujan spoke about Buena Vida Adult Day Center, and the difference the Center makes in the lives of participants and their families. Lujan presented a video about the participants “Thanks for keeping us young at heart,” set to the Frank Sinatra song.

· Dr. Senske presented three $500 scholarships to the UTEP Nursing Program to Kristynia Robinson, assistant dean for Graduate Education.

· Jose Alamillo, area director for LSS-FIT in El Paso, spoke about the foster care program and introduced Sam and Martha Ornelas, a Foster In Texas/adoptive family.  BVornelas The Ornelases adopted River, who suffered from shaken baby syndrome (SBS)when he was just a newborn.  They showed a video of River’s life story that touched everyone so deeply the couple received a very LONG standing ovation.

· The live auction was run by Gary Warner, a former El Paso newscaster. Included in the auction were: Woo’s award-winning house; a U.S Flag and 9/11 Flag of Honor with the names of all the victims of 9/11; a John Hardy silver and gold cuff bracelet; two round-trip tickets on American Airlines; and “A Dinner to Remember” for six by El Paso celebrity chef Rulis of Rulis International Kitchen.

It was a wonderful night in El Paso, and we want to extend a big THANK YOU to the volunteers, sponsors, committee, and guests who raised $26,000 for Buena Vida and foster care.

Fresh Paint & Helping Hands at Buena Vida

March 23, 2012

BVpainters2Two wonderful volunteer groups came out to the Buena Vida Adult Day Center in El Paso and gave graciously of their time, energy, and talent by putting a fresh coat of paint on all the interior walls of the facility – not an easy task since painting time was limited to the weekends, when BV participants are at home or with their families. The interior walls have been transformed from light blue to a warm, cream mocha, and the residents and staff love it! 

The painting team from Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Center was spearheaded by Helga Carrion, who also happens to be Buena Vida’s registered dietician. The group of eight brought ladders, tape, brushes and good cheer to the task, and prepped the Center for the project.

The second shift was comprised of 10 volunteers with the University of Texas at El Paso’s  “Project Move” (Miner Opportunities for Volunteer Experiences), which was established as an annual one-day work day to provide students, staff, faculty, and alumni of UTEP with an opportunity to give back to the El Paso community through volunteerism.  March 3rdwas the designated date for Project Move, and we’re so grateful Buena Vida was chosen for this much-needed project.

We love our Buena Vida volunteers!

The daytime residents of Buena Vida are seniors and disabled adults who require supervised care and health monitoring during the day. Half of the 75 or so daily participants suffer from Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related illnesses and about 95 percent live at or below the poverty level. An affiliated ministry of Lutheran Social Services, Buena Vida has operated in El Paso since 1975, and is the city’s only nonprofit adult day care center.

Look for more Buena Vida news and photos following our upcoming fundraiser, İCelebre la Buena Vida! on March 29th.

The Sound of Music at Buena Vida

June 20, 2011

BV Symphony The Buena Vida Adult Day Center in El Paso was alive with the sound of music this week, when the El Paso Symphony Orchestra stopped by for a visit. Well, not the wholeorchestra, but the Orchestra’s Golden Notes String Quartet. The quartet gave a wonderful 45-minute performance that included pieces by Bach and Mozart.

The El Paso Symphony’s Golden Notes Program is an outreach to elderly citizens who are not able to attend classical concerts. Small groups of orchestra members take live music to these sometimes forgotten citizens, presenting on-site concerts at area nursing homes, retirement villages, and adult day care centers like Buena Vida. The quartet that performed at Buena Vida happened to include Susan Hernandez, the local Thrivent Representative, member of Zion Lutheran Church, and supporter of Buena Vida.

Symphony musicians (l. to r.): Adria Dunn, Susan Hernandez, Anita Steadman, Rodrigo Maldonado

The response to the concert by Buena Vida’s day residents was nothing short of joyful, reports Steven Lujan, director of the Center. “It was so enchanting and brought a delightful ambiance and presence to Buena Vida – a very refreshing break from the summer heat.” Lujan said.

The El Paso Symphony is currently celebrating its 80th season. It is the oldest performing arts organization in El Paso and the longest continuously running symphony orchestra in the state of Texas. The El Paso Symphony is the pride of El Paso, having received both national and international recognition after two very successful tours of Germany and Turkey.

The Golden Notes program is funded by private and corporate donations and was created to enhance the quality of life in the El Paso community. The day residents at Buena Vida can vouch for that. The Golden Notes performance was music to their ears.

Buena Vida Celebrations

March 24, 2011

St. Paddy’s Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Sixty participants and 10 companion volunteers at Buena Vida Adult Day Center in El Paso were wearin’ the green and havin’ a carnival. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and Buena Vida was decked out in Irish style, the perfect place for the elderly and disabled day residents to celebrate the holiday with games, food, fun, and friendship.

Buena Vida’s activity director, Gloria Soto, coordinated the carnival, which included a dolphin ring toss, carnival roulette, and a golden pot throw with prizes and goodies for everyone. The most popular carnival event was the pie-throwing contest. BVcarnival

Participants relished the opportunity to throw whipped cream pies at Ms. Soto, who gets the award for “best sport of the day.”



Celebre La Buena Vida TODAYBV2011

The St. Patrick’s Day Carnival is just one example of the activities that define Buena Vida Adult Day Care Center. An annual fundraiser “Celebre La Buena Vida,” helps to fund these activities. And it’s all happening today!

Here’s the scoop:

TODAY, Thursday, March 24, 2011

Camino Real Hotel

101 South El Paso Street
El Paso, Texas 79901

Complimentary parking at Camino Real Hotel

Light supper buffet 5:30p.m.

Auction begins 6:30 p.m.

Live music by New Breed Jazz Alliance

Individual reservation: $30 – purchase online or contact Debbie Telles at 915-373-9220.

Buena Vida Christmas Afterglow

December 27, 2010

Photo update: There is not much more to add to the previous story (Dec. 23, 2010) about the celebration and blanket drive at the Buena Vida Adult Day Center in El Paso. But we now have photos to share, to illustrate what was really a special day in the lives of participants, volunteers, and staff who attended. Buena Vida is truly a “home away from home” that gives El Paso’s low-income elderly and disabled something to look forward to during the holidays – and every other day of the year.


A Warm and Cozy Christmas at Buena Vida Adult Day Center

December 23, 2010

David was the inspiration behind the blanket drive at Buena Vida Adult Day Center in El Paso. David is a 74-year-old double amputee, and because his circulation isn’t the best, his upper thighs get very cold in the winter while sitting in his wheel chair. David, and many other Buena Vida participants, don’t have their own blankets, and have to borrow from others at their home residences; in his case an adult foster home for low-income, disabled adults.

The first annual Buena Vida blanket drive kicked off Dec. 20, and it was such a success that now every participant who comes to the center will receive his or her own new blanket. A total of 70 blankets were collected and distributed at Buena Vida’s Christmas Celebration Dec. 22.pile o' blankets

In addition to the blanket, each participant at the Center also received two Christmas gifts donated by local gift-giving programs: The El Paso Community Foundation Spirit of Giving Tree, the El Paso RSVP Giving Tree and the Annual Mt. Hope Lutheran Church Christmas Giving Tree. Volunteers from the SASW (Student Association of Social Work) at UTEP helped with the party and with handing out the gifts. Buena Vida was alive with the sounds of Christmas music provided by the Terrazas Jazz Duet and singers from the Apostolic Center of El Paso.

David, along with his friends and the staff at Buena Vida, are grateful to the following blanket donor-elves: Rosedale Exterminators, El Paso Buddhist Center, Horizon High School Student Council, Senior Companion Program Volunteers, LSS Staff, Rosemary Lopez, Maribel Chacon, Hortencia Hinojosa, Helga Carrion, Armando and Margie Martinez, and John Staegar.

Wishing you all a Buena Vida Christmas!

The Buena Vida Adult Day Center serves approximately 125 low-income elderly and disabled persons, nearly half of whom have Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related illnesses. Participants are provided services that allow them to live with their families or in adult foster homes, rather than go to a nursing home.

“Fundraising is an Extreme Sport!”

June 24, 2010

David Kahle

That phrase was poached from Marc Pitman, founder of, a website dedicated to practical ideas for fundraising more effectively. He has a point! Fundraising is not for the faint of heart. Asking for money is kind of scary. It means regular exposure to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. While there can be triumphs of the human spirit, there are also a few crash landings along the way.

Dan ZieschangThe consistently high quality services LSS strives to provide to children, the elderly, and others in need would not be possible if we weren’t able to conduct successful, ongoing fundraisers.

At LSS, the extreme fundraising athletes are called the Agency Advancement Team*. Led by senior vp David Kahle and vp for community/church relations Dan Zieschang, this group covers the territory of Texas meeting with donors and choreographing a series of annual events and benefits: “Make a Difference” in Austin, “Celebre La Buena Vida” in El Paso, “Caring for Kids” in Denton, “Spring Fling” in Lubbock, and “Change a Life at Bokenkamp” in Corpus Christi. Plus “Tomorrow’s Child” golf benefits in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Denton.

What drives these risk-takers? A great cause … the ministries of Lutheran Social Services, providing help, healing, and hope to seniors, those in financial need, and children in foster care and residential treatment centers.Please say a little prayer for David, Dan, and their team … for manyKristy McKinney, director of community/church relations safe and successful landings in the future!

*David and Dan are ably assisted by Kristy McKinney, Karen Bernstein, Delores Neutzler, Diane Covert, Susan Rang, Karen Kracht, Nicole Griesse, and grant writers Cecelia Blanford and Flo Shaw.

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