Participant stays strong with CEI

“A lot of people think I am from Mexico because of my accent but I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico,” says Ms. Agatha Lovato, a Center for Elders’ Independence participant at the Eastmont PACE Center for the last three years. “When I was little I wanted to live one of three places I read about in magazines: Denver, Juarez, or San Francisco.” She was a waitress at a ski resort outside Denver and visited Juarez, but when her oldest son married a woman from Alameda, she saw her chance. She moved here with her younger children and opened a restaurant in San Francisco’s Richmond District called The Santa Fe.

Eventually, Ms. Lovato sold the restaurant and went back to school to study child development and spent the last part of her career working with children in the Emeryville area.

“Studying child development was one of the best things I could have done because not only did I raise my children, but I now have 28 grandchildren and great — grandchildren — five generations!”

Three years ago, one of Ms. Lovato’s daughters passed away and she was deeply affected. She didn’t want to cry, and she feels that keeping the grief inside made her health deteriorate. “I was dizzy all the time and I had to hold on to things. I was so sad, and I was really worried I would have to leave my home because I was so dizzy. But then I found CEI,” says Lovato. “It took them (CEI)

a whole year to get me straightened out with my doctor and physical therapy!”

“ I was dizzy all the time and I had to hold on to things. I was so sad, and I was really worried I would have to leave my home because I was so dizzy. But then I found CEI, ”

Now she is back to walking without support and feels much healthier. She has even become the unofficial head of the Spanish-speaking group at the Eastmont PACE Center. “They ask me to help new people feel welcome since my Spanish and my English are both good. Plus, I like to say, ‘Come on, let’s all go exercise.’”

She also sings at Center parties and is well known for her lovely voice. “I sang Bésame Mucho for a 101st birthday party here last week. I sing it in both English and Spanish so everyone can understand the words.” Center Director Liz Wells- Peters says, “Ms. Lovato has a beautiful voice! The first time I heard her sing, I was in my office down the hall and when I heard her voice I had to come

Ms. Lovato (right) and friend Ms. Maria Carrillo de Ulloa

out of my office and find out who was singing like an angel.”

When asked what she liked best about CEI, Ms. Lovato says, “My daughter lives next door to me. It is really good to be part of CEI because I don’t feel like I am being a burden to my daughter – she gets to live her own life and go to work as a tax preparer. Before I came to CEI, she had to go pick up my medication and take me to the doctor all the time. Now she doesn’t have to do all that.”

Ms. Lovato is proud that she has rigged an over- the-shoulder bag for her laundry so she can carry it up and down the 17 steps to her apartment while holding on to the two rails. “My daughter is always asking what she can do to help and I say, just wait. Someday I will need more, but right now, I have to do it myself and stay strong.