Photo by Annemarie Donkin
Seniors welcome back the first Senior Dinner since TCC closed its doors in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They still maintained CDC safety guidlines.
First Friday Dinners are back!
After a long 18 months during the pandemic, First Friday Senior Dinners have resumed at the Topanga Community Center (TCC). To celebrate, more than 40 seniors gathered on Friday, October 1, at the Senior Center to kick off the fall season in true Topanga style.
The weather was perfect as Karen Dannenbaum hosted the event outside on the shady side of the Topanga Community House with help from Tyler Traband, Tam Taylor, Jenni Klemp, and Mackenzie Runyon.
Among the guests were Rose Wiley, Karla Morrison, Tom and Jeanne Mitchell, Rick Provisor and Merlene Lear.
The meal started with appetizers-in-a-cup fresh veggies with a tasty hummus made by Dannenbaum.
Roccoâ€™s Cucina and Kristine Rocco-Levy provided the crispy salads and warm lasagna and meatballs. The dinner was topped off with Karen Dannenbaumâ€™s famous pumpkin coffee cake with brown sugar glaze. Yum. â€śItâ€™s a three-part process, the cake, the crumble on top and the glaze after itâ€™s baked,â€ť she said.
For many of the diners, including those who received delivered meals during the pandemic, this was a great way to get back in touch. Masks were required unless you were dining and the tables were spaced and restricted to four people each.
â€śIncluding meals-to-go that were picked up, we served about 48 dinners,â€ť Dannenbaum said. â€śI was very happy that most people chose to stay and see their neighbors whom they hadnâ€™t seen in a long time.â€ť
In fact, I was privileged to join a table with some truly charming peopleâ€”Ellyn Hardison a traveling R.N.; Larry Anderson, a civil engineer who has lived in Topanga since 1937, and his wife, Janet Anderson, a physical therapist.
â€śWe are happy to be back here in person,â€ť Larry Anderson said.
While Dannenbaum and the other hosts cheerfully and efficiently served and cleaned up the meals, folks were content to stay and visit.
â€śThe dinners are really dear to my heart. I love seeing all the senior residents of the canyon get out and socialize and I especially enjoy getting compliments on my desserts,â€ť Dannenbaum wrote via email.
â€śOver the years Iâ€™ve gotten to know a lot of Topanga residents that I might not have met otherwise. I think the dinners are the mainstay of The Canyon Sages and I am very appreciative of the Topanga Community Center offering physical help, and funding the dinners all these years.
â€śThe dinners are going through big changes, as Lisa VillaseĂ±or, the head chef, and Karla Morrison, can no longer participate in them. Fortunately, for the October dinner, Kristina Rocco-Levy had some donation funds and was able to prepare the main course and salad at her restaurant, Roccoâ€™s Cucina. The lasagna and meatballs were raved about by everyone. I made the hummus and dessert and we put together the individual appetizer cups in the TCC kitchenâ€ť.
What happens during the rest of the year with COVID is yet to be seen, but many hope the dinners can continue.
â€śMy hope is that we will be able to continue with in-person dinners,â€ť Dannenbaum wrote. â€śThe response was great and everyone complied with the safety rules we had set. There is enough room outside for the tables and if our SoCal weather holds, we should be able to continue. We are looking for a new volunteer head chef, so that is the biggest challenge.â€ť n
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