Next to St. Edward’s Catholic Church on Elm Street near Baylor, there is a place where seniors can come to share meals, activities, lectures, stories and, yes, bingo. This facility is The Brady Center, a community center established by the Catholic Charities.
In addition to the senior program, The Brady Center provides a food pantry, a family education department where single parents can receive job training, and a pre-school to care for children while their parents take classes. The Brady Center has been in operation for over 15 years, and its Senior Nutrition Program has become increasingly popular, attracting up to 150 participants on any given day from as far away as North Dallas.
The program is available to any senior age 60 years and older, regardless of religious affiliation or financial status. Currently, 410 seniors have signed up to participate in the program. Ella Talavera, the program director, explains that the program serves many functions for the seniors who participate.
“Many of these seniors are stuck at home, so we provide transportation for anyone who lives within the five-zip-code area that surrounds the center,” she says. "Coming here keeps them from being depressed. It’s a place where they can share a meal with others, find camaraderie, and keep active.”
The program provides breakfast three times a week, and lunch daily. While some Dallas area meal programs rely on food that is prepared off-site and delivered, The Brady Center boasts a full service kitchen.
“I think the food is better because it is prepared here,” says Talavera. Eighty-year-old Candy Tafolla, a program participant and center volunteer, agrees. “The food here is very good compared to other places,” she says.
Every lunch is specifically designed to include one-third of the dietary RDA. But Tafolla and other participants don’t come just for the meals. “We all like coming here because it’s a way to make new friends, to share stories, and to learn new things. I learned to paint here,” she says. “I really enjoy painting but I’ve never had the materials or anyone to teach me before.”
In addition to meals and entertainment, The Brady Center also hosts informational seminars, and provides transportation to area grocery stores and shopping malls.
“Many of our participants are no longer driving,” says Talavera, “so this may be their only opportunity to run these errands.”
The Brady Center is partially funded by the Catholic Charities, and also receives some funding from The Area Agency on Aging and The United Way. Still, they rely primarily on help from volunteers to run the center on a day to day basis. Anyone is welcome to lend a hand, but they particularly need individuals who can help with teaching classes and leading activities.
Candy Tafolla volunteers at the center daily, assisting with food preparation and handling donations. "I come every day from 9:30 until 4 or 5,” she explains. "I just enjoy being here with everyone so much.”
Contact The Brady Center at (214) 826-8330.