Grab your favorite cup of joe and enjoy the first in our series celebrating the stories and experiences of Wider Circle’s diverse and amazing members. This month, our editorial team had a chance to chat with Yolanda Salinas of Daly City, California. An active member since 2018, Yolanda is the Volunteer Ambassador for her chapter, currently dedicating her time and boundless energy to check on her fellow neighbors in need as part of Wider Circle’s COVID-19 Support Program.

Yolanda, thank you for taking time out of your Saturday afternoon for this interview! You have made such a positive impact on fellow Wider Circle members’ lives, and you only joined a few years ago. Can you tell us a bit about your journey from hesitant first-time member to your current role as a lead volunteer for your group?

Of course! When my health plan reached out and invited me to check out a Wider Circle meeting in my area, my first reaction was: “No thanks.” I had my routine. But after thinking about it for a few days, I decided: “Why not, I’ll just go to one meeting.” It turns out I really enjoyed myself, and I was surprised to meet so many people who live right nearby. A few of them became my close friends.

After attending a few meetings and events, I volunteered to check in and welcome new members. For some of us older adults, it can be a little strange coming into something new like this and not knowing anyone. I really liked making them feel welcome. Before I knew it, I was on the phone calling around to see if anyone needed help getting to the meetings, helping them get transportation or figuring out the bus schedule – whatever they needed to get here, I wanted to help!

Yolanda Salinas [left] leading a meet-and-greet activity for new Wider Circle members.

Yolanda’s Favorite At-Home Exercises

Warm-up (3-5 mins): Walk in place, standing squats, arm circles in both directions

Lower body (5-10 mins): Toe lifts, sitting or standing: Put weight on heels and lift toes up, 10-20 reps

Standing leg kicks: Swing leg forward and backward, then side to side, 10-20 times each leg. Use a chair for balance if needed.

Standing squats: With or without light weights or a cane. As many as you can. Try to increase by one or two each workout.

Abs and core (5-10 mins): Chair work:Sit on edge of chair, lean forward and back, holding in your core, 10-20 reps

Sit on edge of chair, lean back slightly and hold on to edge of chair for balance. Bring knees to chest, one knee at a time or both at the same time, 10-20 reps

Standing twists: Twist your core left to right, with elbows raised and pointing outward, 10-20 reps

Side bends, sitting or standing: Hands on hips, with or without weights, keep hips stable as you bend side to side, 10-20 reps

Cool-down (3-5 mins): Repeat the warm-up exercises, slow down your pace and your breathing

Sadly, COVID-19 has put a temporary halt to public gatherings, leaving a lot of Americans feeling more isolated. How are you staying connected with your group during these difficult times?

Yes, it is sad we are stuck in our homes and we can’t do our normal things, but I am grateful I have been able to help by doing what I love: Talking! I help with the volunteer buddy phone tree program that Wider Circle has set up to check on members in our nearby areas. I will make up to 50 calls almost every day to help anyone in need ‒ whether that’s scheduling our food deliveries, or maybe just a good chat to lift their spirits. I will check on some families a couple of times a week if they are feeling particularly down. It makes me feel really good to help in this way when people are feeling extra anxious right now.

I also hear you have some great exercise tips for sheltering in place. Care to share? 

Well, I really enjoyed leading exercises with my group at the beginning of our meetings. We should all do our exercises, even though it might be harder to stay motivated these days. I just make it a part of my morning routine. Before breakfast, I do my own workout for about an hour, four times a week. I will make it up as I go, starting from my feet and then working my way up. I will look for exercises in magazines, or I love the free online classes that Silver Sneakers offers. You just have to keep it interesting and mix it up!

You are truly an inspiration, Yolanda! Before I let you go, any other words of wisdom for our friends and neighbors out there? 

Meditate, take deep breaths when times feel stressful. Thank the Lord that every morning you have another day. Be grateful for our lives and be happy that you can move. Maybe you have a friend with you, but if you don’t we are here for you.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please call our COVID-19 hotline: (877) 470-0390.

Share This:

About the author: Editorial Team