Washoe County seniors find relief from the heat and sense of community at senior center

Long-time Reno resident, Judy Peck, lives in a nearly forty-year-old mobile home with no air conditioning. She is one of hundreds of Washoe County residents who rely on cooling centers, like the Washoe County Senior Center, to escape from the extreme heat.

“Oh my goodness. If we didn’t have this place I would be in total misery all the time,” she said. “I can hardly think of not being here. The free food helps with my budget and the cool temperature helps with my body. I am really pretty miserable at home.”

Judy is one of about three hundred seniors who visit the Washoe County Senior Center nearly every day, not just for the free meals and air conditioning but also for a sense of community.

“There’s there is nowhere else I would rather be than here. I look around and I see employees coming from the other buildings to enjoy lunch, to enjoy the camaraderie, to get involved in what’s happening in here. I see the homeless coming in. I see workaday Joes who have a day off in the middle of the week, and they’re in here. We’ve got a cross-section of all kinds of people, and everybody becomes friends with everybody, and it’s like one big family,” Judy said.

The Senior Center isn’t the only popular place around town during this heat wave. According to the Washoe County Library System, the Downtown Reno Library is reporting their largest increase in new visitors since the triple digit temperatures started last week. The Sparks and Sierra View libraries have reported a 5% increase in visitors and they say the same trend is being seen at the North Valleys, Northwest Reno, South Valleys and Spanish Springs libraries.

“You can’t go to a casino because they don’t want you to sit down at their machines and not play. Can’t go sit in a restaurant because they want you to order something and you don’t have enough money to spend for the whole day. At least here there’s so many different activities you could be into. You can read, you can sit quietly by yourself,” Judy said.

The Washoe County Senior Center has extended their hours until 7 p.m. for the past couple weeks, so residents can continue to stay safe from the extreme heat.

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