By Lisa Hunter / Staff writer
Swimming in the ocean is a daily activity for 91-year-old Mary Thoits, manager of the senior center at PCC.
Thoits encourages seniors to stay active and healthy through exercise and takes heed to her own advice every day.
Sean Guerin, a Long Beach lifeguard, keeps an eye on Thoits as she swims at Belmont Shore beach and refers to her as his morning date.
“She’s incredible at 91. The fact that she is still out here and she’s not just out floating around, she actually gets into the water and she swims. I’m completely amazed that she is as young as she is despite her actual number age,” Guerin said.
“Life is an adventure or it is nothing,” Thoits said, referring to a Helen Keller quote from her book “The Open Door.” She reminds students at LBCC to set a goal and encourages them to stay focused. “There is a reason why we’re here. You always should have a reason and a purpose in life,” she said.
Thoits received a bachelor of arts degree from DePauw University and a master of arts degree from Cal State Long Beach. She heads the senior studies program and oversees the activities and events at the senior center named for her.
The purpose of the center is to challenge seniors and encourage them physically, spiritually and mentally. Senior studies courses include music appreciation for concert-goers and musical theater lovers, world affairs and current events, brain power and drive sharp classes and LBCC community symphonic band.
Thoits said she feels the seniors at the center serve as role models to the students at LBCC. She said students often come by and say how they wished their parents or grandparents would be as active as the participants of the center or register for classes themselves.
She said the seniors at the center are there to help and support the students at LBCC and want to show them that there is more life than just sitting back.
The senior center will be changing its name from the Mary Thoits Senior Center to the Leaning Life Center as requested by Thoits. She said life is learning and people never stop learning as long as they live.
Thoits said social connection is important for senior students. ”As people get older, sometimes they pull back, but sometimes they want things that they didn’t get a chance to do like travel and learn about what’s happening in the world and things like music, so this is their opportunity.”
More information is available by visiting lbcc.edu/SeniorCenter or calling (562) 938-3048.