Since 1974, the Long Beach Gray Panthers have been advocating for senior rights in the city through education and networking opportunities. Through their work, organization leaders are hoping to change the way senior adults are perceived within the community, Karen Reside, Gray Panthers secretary, said.

"We're campaigning against ageism and challenging misconceptions that people might have about older adults," Reside said. "In our culture, we tend to dismiss seniors and we would like to adjust that lens."

And they do that mostly through free events, like the annual Senior Fest happening on Saturday, May 4.

This year's event is a little different. It's the organization's 45th anniversary, and the theme is bold — like the nonprofit's message, Reside added.

"Our theme this year is 'Seniors are Superheroes: Old and Bold,'" she said. "We want to offer empowering messages and practical educational advice for preparing for their future."

Aside from food and light entertainment, resources will be available with topics catered to Long Beach seniors ranging from money management programs to transportation and medical resources. Information for caretakers and families of seniors will be available as well. 

And with the upcoming 2020 election, there will be a session on how to use the new voting system that will be at polls.

Overall, the goal is to alter any perceptions of growing older for the better.

 “There are many changes coming to our community that will impact older adults," Myron Wollin, Gray Panthers president, said in a release. "Climate change, changes in voting processes, new discoveries in extending the quality of senior lives and being counted in the upcoming Census are just a few of the topics that are meaningful to everyone, not only seniors."

Senior Fest is free to attend and is happening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the Long Beach Senior Center, 1150 E. Fourth St. 

Regular meetings for the Long Beach Gray Panthers take place every first Saturday of the month at 10:30 a.m. at the Long Beach Senior Center.

For more information, email Longbeachgraypanthers@gmail.com.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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