After 20 years of working at the Port of Oakland, Collins returned to college at age 40 earning a degree in Early Childhood Education. She then operated a childcare business for 10 years, teaching close to 500 preschoolers, many with special needs. She was ready for a change in 2008 and joined Center for Elders Independence’s staff as an Activity Assistant at first. She worked at four CEI PACE centers in East Oakland and Berkeley and was the Activities Director at the East Oakland PACE as well. She says, “When I was running two sites at once, it was the biggest challenge of my life!”
A part of the Care Team
As an Activities Director Ms. Collins created the programming at the center that included outside entertainment, group sing-a-longs, exercises like Chair Yoga, arts and crafts, and through games like Bingo and crossword puzzles.
The Activity Director is important to the care team of people that help each participant because they help keep participants active and socializing with others. On a day to day basis they also can gauge how a participant is feeling because they are around them each time they come into the center.
Life threw Collins a curveball when she suffered a debilitating stroke and could no longer fulfill the demands of her job. In 2014, she became the first staff member to be a CEI participant. Collins enrolled at East Oakland PACE, where she previously served as Activity Director. Collins admits the past few years have “been rough” with the passing of family members and a second stroke.
Back to life
“CEI brought me a long way back to life, physically, and emotionally. CEI staff handles every possible problem or issue you might have, and they’re always only a phone call away.”
Back to school as a senior
Dolores Collins, 65, is proud to be one of the first graduates of iPad training for seniors sheltering at home. She now spends time every day on Zoom enjoying virtual activities and talking with friends.
Gaining joy from being connected
Before the pandemic, only 10 percent of Center for Elders’ Independence seniors had online capabilities. The critical need to socially isolate because of COVID-19 has complicated this and other problems for older adults. The challenge of making more participants digitally.