After savoring the chicken cordon bleu in the new Golden Circle dining room at Silver Key Senior Services, retired pastor Timothy La-Fond reviewed the month’s menu and pointed to several other dates on which he had enjoyed a delicious lunch. La-Fond and his workout partner, Robert Clostio, are vocal advocates for the program that offers dining facilities at its new location on south Murray Boulevard.
“We have been telling everyone we know when we workout at the (YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region),” La-Fond said. “I would recommend the hamburgers, the taco salad and the roast beef. Every meal I have eaten here has been something that was good for me.”
Silver Key Senior Services moved to its new location in August, and organization leaders hope others will soon join La-Fond and Clostio in discovering the new dining room. The cost is $2.25 per meal for diners 60 and older, though no one is turned away if they are unable to pay. Guests under 60 can also pay $6.50 for a meal.
The location is quickly becoming a neighborhood gem as senior citizens can dine in or pick up food from the Silver Key pantry; more services and amenities are also in the works.
Chief Development Officer Lorri Orwig said the move from the former location on Bott Avenue was the culmination of a three-year search.
“After reviewing studies about where the Colorado Springs and El Paso County senior populations are growing — and with the knowledge that our Bott location was not senior friendly — our board began searching for other locations,” Orwig said. “We looked at 25 possibilities.”
There were three specific criteria: a new building must have an elevator if it was more than one story high, a loading dock for the food inventory needed for the dining services and capacity for growth to expand the pantry.
The facility on Murray Boulevard is 68,000-square feet, and Silver Key operates in 35,000-square feet while leasing the other space to Rocky Mountain Optical, QCMI Electronic Contract Manufacturing and three other organizations. Orwig said she hopes El Paso County will move its Adult Protective Services program to the location because many of those programs complement Silver Key’s mission of supporting and improving the quality of life for senior citizens.
“The population of people over 65 years old in this county is projected to grow more than 179 percent by 2040,” Orwig said. “People sometimes ask where are they moving from, but it’s people who have been here 30-40 years, raised their children, still live in their own homes. They’re aging in place.”
Plans for the building include a community room that would offer fitness classes, games and movies. The facility also has space for other groups to meet, and the kitchen can offer catering services. Orwig said the organization is only limited by its number of volunteer drivers. In the last four years, Silver Key went from providing about 26,000 meals in 2011 to 66,000 in 2015. Service has recently been extended to the Monument community, but Orwig would like to be able to offer services in Calhan, Black Forest and other outlying areas.
More neighborhood connections have emerged as students from the Atlas Preparatory School across the street became interns in the Golden Circle’s kitchen under the direction of Chef Jeremy Coleman. As head chef, Coleman blends a fine-dining experience with his extensive knowledge of healthy eating and taste, particularly when it comes to serving seniors. He works closely with a nutritionist to develop the menu, providing healthy meals with variety and flavor. “I get to work in a state-of-the-art kitchen,” Coleman said. “It’s a real joy.”
Coleman strives to prepare foods high in fiber and low in sodium, and uses fresh ingredients whenever possible. The chef also specializes in Southern comfort foods that his diners enjoy. This winter, seniors can look for Coleman and his staff to prepare hearty braised pork and roast beef.
While filling stomachs is also a big part of what the Silver Key team does, they know a hot meal can mean so much more that just that.
Orwig recalled an older gentleman who recently stopped by the new facility to stock up on food from the pantry. When one of the staff members told him the dining room was open and he was welcome to stay and eat a home-cooked meal, tears welled up in his eyes as he learned he could have not only hot and nutritious food but also social interactions with other area seniors.
“We’ve arrived at the right neighborhood,” Orwig said. “It’s so gratifying when I think of how this all came together.”