Archuleta Seniors Inc. given growing dome through area-wide project


By Rose Chavez | PREVIEW Columnist

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) on March 11, 2021, to combat the public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide financial relief to Americans. 

Of the $1.9 trillion package, $1.43 billion was earmarked for the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the national network of Area Agencies on Aging. The San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA) received $645,688.74 in ARPA funds for Region 9 (Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties). 

The executive director of SJBAAA, Christina Knoell, proposed working with a Pagosa Springs business, Growing Spaces, on a growing dome project to benefit five area senior centers. 

The first two would be built to support the Southern Ute tribe in Ignacio and the Ute Mountain Ute tribe in Towaoc. Another growing dome would be constructed in Dove Creek for the Pioneer Center. A fourth growing dome would be built in Silverton for its newly opened senior center, with the last one in Pagosa Springs (located on the Growing Spaces campus) for Archuleta Seniors Inc. (ASI). 

For this proposal, Knoell explained she thought about how ARPA funds could help her own region by offering quality food and health benefits for older adults, as well as stimulate the local economy.

There are several nutritional health benefits and opportunities for the older adults who receive meal services from the senior centers: 

1. Quality, healthy, nutritious, locally grown food being incorporated in the meals. 

2. Consuming fresh, locally grown food may contribute to chronic disease prevention for those who are at risk or currently living with one or more chronic diseases. 

3. Lower cost for fresh fruits and vegetables. The growing domes will not replace a fresh food order from food suppliers, but it may reduce the cost of fresh food, saving the senior centers some money. 

An important part of the growing dome proposal is to hire a master gardener to ensure that the soil and plants thrive in the domes. A full-time master gardener for the first five years will assist in maintaining a healthy plant ecology and help prevent disastrous white fly or aphid infestations. ASI just partnered with SJBAAA to hire local farmer Kelle Bruno for the master gardener position. 

Chef Cynthia Sperry of ASI’s Community Cafe just met with Bruno this past week to take inventory of her seasonal menus and identify which produce will be grown to supplement the menu prepared at the Silver Fox’s Den and Community Cafe located in the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

Early ideas include freshly grown crudites added to the green organic salads and fresh herbs to amp up the flavor and presentation of the meals. Stop by the cafe in the coming weeks and months and consider ordering lunch (the cafe is open to all) to try some of the new seasonal produce on the menu. 

To reserve your meal for the day, please make your reservation via text or phone call to (970) 264-2167 by 9 a.m. weekdays. 

SJBAAA staff will seek additional funds from other grant applications, that may include but are not limited to private donors and foundation support. This project has support from the State Unit on Aging, and staff are excited about growing domes being part of the meal program. 

For more information about the ASI growing dome project, please contact ASI at (970) 264-2167 or stop by the Pagosa Senior Center at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. in the Community Center. 

Let’s talk Medicare

It’s easy to get confused about all the ins and outs of Medicare. With open enrollment only a few months away, SJBAA is inviting the public to an informal get-together to discuss Medicare topics. 

A certified Medicare counselor will lead the discussion and answer any Medicare-related questions.

Join us Thursday, Aug. 17, at 1 p.m. Bring your beverage or snack and your Medicare questions to the Senior Center dining hall at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. For more information, please call the Medicare line at (970) 264-0501, ext. 21. 

Rock painting Aug. 24

Join local artist Becky Crowe at 1:15 p.m. on Aug. 24 for a free rock art session. 

We have gathered a variety of rocks of different sizes for your painting pleasure. Stop by the dining hall and either bring your own rock or select from our collection. 

We will provide the paint and rocks, and you bring your own inspiration to create a colorful rock to place in your garden or to use as a paperweight. This activity is free and open to all ages.

New Monday music

Enjoy pleasant soft-rock songs from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, as well as international folk, humor, and new music, too. 

Dr. Erika Sueker has been playing music since 1967, teaching music since 1978 and working with seniors since 1983. 

Join the lunchtime fun upcoming Mondays.

Farmers Market vouchers

Farmers Market vouchers for seniors are available. 

If you love to shop at the Farmers Market, are 60 or older, or if you are 200 percent of poverty, please call Debbie at (970) 403-2164 at the Area Agency on Aging to put your name on the list for $50 in vouchers to redeem for local foods. 

Then, visit the Pagosa Farmers Market any Saturday during the growing season (June through September) to pick up your $50 voucher to support the local food artisans and growers in southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico. 

The Pagosa Farmers Market is located on the third row of the East Side Market and is open only on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through September. 

Senior conversations

Join us Wednesdays at 1:15 p.m. for a series of “Senior Conversations” with local Bill Salmansohn. 

He will lead the group through mindfulness exercises and discussion of various topics pertaining to aging in Archuleta County. Explore and discover for yourself answers to your questions and concerns. 

The meeting will be held at the Senior Center in the dining hall. Snacks will be provided.

Pagosa Springs
Scrapbooking Club

The Pagosa Springs Scrapbooking Club holds monthly meetings the second Saturday of each month at the Senior Center. 

It meets each month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to be creative, share ideas, connect with friends, learn new techniques, share supplies and indulge in a potluck lunch together. 

Bring your scrapbooking projects — or any crafting project that you may want to work on with the group. If you would like to be added to the mailing list to receive notifications each month of the upcoming meeting along with handy tips and tricks for scrapbooking, please send your request to

Share lunch Monday through Thursday

Join us at the Silver Fox’s Den, aka the Community Cafe, in person for daily hot/cold meals Mondays through Thursdays at the Community Center between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. It is open to all. Pickup is available all week, including Fridays. 

Our dining hall is open to all ages and welcomes you all with kindness and warmth. We provide hot/cold meals for anyone in the community interested in a nutritious and delicious meal. For those 60 or older we request a suggested donation of $10, but no one will be turned away. There is a $10 charge for guests under the age of 60. 

Meals include a main course, side dish, fruit/dessert, garden salad plus beverage. Some popular menu items include Frito chili pie, pork tenderloin with harvest chutney, Singaporean pork ribs, vegetarian lasagna, Hawaiian shrimp with coconut rice and always a beautiful green salad. Many of our items are locally sourced and organic. 

Our chef works with a team of local food professionals to hand-prepare your meal for dine-in service in our cozy dining room (with an amazing view of the San Juans) or for takeout (via our convenient drive-through). Our menu changes daily. 

To reserve your meal for the day, please make your reservation via text or phone call to (970) 264-2167 by 9 a.m. weekdays.

Community Cafe menu

Thursday, Aug. 17 — Beef cheeseburger, green chili sauce, kettle chips, garden salad, fruit, milk and blackberry cheesecake.

Friday, Aug. 18 — Cajun shrimp and grits, zucchini saute, garden salad, fruit, milk and orange Jello.

Monday, Aug. 21 — Chicken Marsala, baked potato, broccoli, garden salad, fruit and milk.

Tuesday, Aug. 22 — Veggie lasagna with white sauce, focaccia bread, garden salad, fruit, milk and chocolate pudding.

Wednesday, Aug. 23 — Crispy cod with tartar sauce and lemon, green beans, dinner roll, garden salad, pistachio fruit salad and milk.

Thursday, Aug. 24 — Pork adovada with Spanish rice, calabacitas, biscochitos, garden salad, fruit and milk. Calabacitas is a favorite New Mexican side dish with yellow squash, corn, onions and green chiles.

Friday, Aug. 25 — Crispy chicken with country gravy, southern biscuits, glazed carrots, garden salad, fruit and milk.

Grab-N-Go meals

Dine-in and Grab-N-Go meal reservations and cancellations are required. Please call or text by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you want to pick up a meal. A suggested donation of $10 helps to sustain our program. No one will be turned away for their inability to donate. Please call or text us at (970) 264-2167 to make a reservation.

Meals on Wheels

We deliver fresh Meals on Wheels five days a week (and provide frozen Meals on Wheels for weekends) to homebound Archuleta County residents. Call or text us at (970) 264-2167.

Mobile food pantry
service discontinued

The Mobile Food Pantry Service has been discontinued due to funding shortages. Older adults needing a ride to a local food pantry should contact the MET to schedule a ride with its paratransit service. For more information, contact Lavonne at (970) 264-2250.

Text reservations

Don’t forget that we offer a convenient texting service for you to communicate with us. Text us at (970) 264-2167. When texting, please include your name, phone number and the days you want a meal. If you are canceling a reservation, please include your name, phone number and the days you want to cancel. 

Texting services are available for dine-in meal reservations, Grab-n-Go meals and Meals on Wheels recipients.

COVID-19 test
kits available

Stop by the Senior Center to pick up a pack of six free COVID-19 tests kits for your personal use. These kits are available to anyone in the public who needs affordable access for health promotion and disease prevention.


Mahjong is a 19th century Chinese tile-based game that is commonly played with four players. Each player receives 13 tiles with a goal to make matching sets and pairs (like poker). To win, a player must form four sets and one pair. 

Come to the Senior Center to learn or play every Tuesday at 1:15 p.m.

Medicare call by

For anyone who needs help enrolling and navigating Medicare plans, the SJBAAA helps with parts A, B and D. They can also help you with fraud concerns and troubleshooting any billing issues you may be having. By appointment only. Please call the Medicare line at (970) 264-0501, ext 4. 


The longest-played bridge game in Archuleta County takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:15 p.m. 

Bridge is a four-player card game with partners sitting opposite each other around a table. It is a trick-taking card game using a standard 52-card deck. Come alone or bring a partner.

Hand and foot card game

Whether you are new to hand and foot or interested in learning, please join us most Thursdays at 1:15 at the Senior Center. 

This card game involves four rounds of playing until the final round is reached — some two to three hours later. Plan to stay and meet some new friends or catch up with those you have missed over the last couple of years. 

No experience is necessary, so come willing to learn. 

Donations requested

ASI has an immediate monetary need to support ongoing operations and programming that provide critical services to some of the most vulnerable in Archuleta County. Please consider donating. 

You may mail your donation to P.O. Box 3444, Pagosa Springs CO 81147 or please visit our website: Donation checks can be written to: Archuleta Seniors Inc. We are located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. 

For more information about ASI, please visit