Take Five: Melissa Gleason learns from the seniors at OASIS

By DIANNE RUSSELL

In 2015, Melissa Gleason joined OASIS Senior Center as a coordinator and has been the senior services manager since 2021. At that time, Stu News Newport got a sense of what she had in mind for the future of OASIS. Three years later, we touched bases with Gleason again to find out what’s been happening since we first spoke with her.

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Photos courtesy of Melissa Gleason

OASIS Senior Services Manager Melissa Gleason

Q: As senior services manager, what are you most proud of in the day-to-day workings of the OASIS Senior Center?

A: When I look around our center, I am proud of the community that has been established and the connections that are made here. I am grateful for those who came to OASIS curious and took a chance and tried something different. OASIS is a place where individuals can accomplish fitness goals, feel supported in a variety of our support groups, learn a new language, meet up with friends, learn a new hobby, give back to the community through volunteering – and the list goes on.

We take pride in what we offer and want those who participate to be excited to return. I am continually impressed by the staff’s dedication in seeking out new and relevant topics for lectures, events, support groups and classes. The level of support services and guidance we provide is unmatched. OASIS is a community within a community, there is a special and unique quality you don’t find at other senior centers.

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Gleason with her mother Tina Gleason, who is a Fitness Center member

Q: Can you give readers a progress report – somewhat of a “state of the OASIS Senior Center” – as we embark on the coming year?

A: I am pleased to say our classes are full, lectures are well attended, and participants are excited for our upcoming events. With the help of instructors, staff and community members, we have new programs and classes that are attracting a lot of interest.

Our Transportation Program continues to remain busy with new clients registering weekly. We have seen a lot of new faces in our Fitness Center, memberships are back to pre-COVID-19 numbers and continue to increase. The Friends of OASIS Membership meetings sell out every month and the Friends Travel Office staff works extremely hard to find and schedule out-of-the-ordinary trips (for a great price). I see the greeters who volunteer, provide tours to those who are new to the area or here to explore more of our offerings. I am happy to say we are growing in numbers.

Gleason and staff at a concert last summer

Q: What new classes or programs are in the works?

A: If you know Laird Hayes and Tom Johnson, then you most likely know about the “Talking Sports” group. I have been in the room when meetings have started, and I have to be honest, it’s hard to leave. The guest speakers are very impressive! This group brings a different energy to OASIS, and I love it. Another newish class is Sound Bath and Meditation put on by our yoga instructor, Stephanie von Meeteren. This is an evening class and I see new faces of all ages (18+) coming for a night of “rest and replenish.” I know this is a new concept for many, so I am happy to see people giving it a try. Another new program still on the drawing board is Lawn Bowling 101 which will be held at the Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Club located on Crown Drive. As I mentioned, this is still in the works, and there will be more information to come. I am excited to announce the return of the AARP Tax Aid Free Prep Service. After two years on hiatus, it is back thanks to the counselors who volunteer to make it happen.

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Q: What are the most utilized senior support programs/services?

A: If you live in Newport Beach, you’ve most likely seen the OASIS buses and vehicles providing transportation to those 60+ and who are retired from driving. There are approximately 400 clients who utilize this service. This valuable program allows folks to get around town safely at a low cost, whether they are coming to OASIS to take a class or going to the doctors. Another is our Information and Referral Program. We provide valuable resources to those who need assistance for themselves or loved ones. We connect people to the right program that will offer further support.

Another popular program used by many in our community is the Medical Equipment Loan program. We have equipment to loan out for that unforeseen circumstance when you may need a walker, cane, knee scooter, or wheelchair. Lastly, Age Well Senior Services. Age Well provides nutritious meals daily here at the center (Monday through Friday) as well as to those who need meals delivered to their home. If you are interested in finding out more information regarding any of the above programs, please call OASIS at 949.644.3244.

Q: What do you most enjoy about working with seniors and how did you become involved with OASIS Senior Center?

A: I enjoy learning from the seniors. I see how they give back to their community through volunteering and how they support one another. I try to absorb the wisdom they so generously share. When I began working with the city almost 14 years ago, I had no idea I would find myself here. In 2015, I started as a coordinator for OASIS and on my first day I remember feeling like I was where I was supposed to be, and almost nine years later my feelings remain the same.

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