Senior center director Gisselle Canales stands by a mural decorated with eight photos of Pershing County senior queens.
Senior center director Gisselle Canales stands by a mural decorated with eight photos of Pershing County senior queens.
Many Lovelock residents enjoy flan – baked custard desserts topped with caramel. But senior center director Gisselle Canales, Kelli Brown and Carmen Jimenez added a twist to Christmas dessert this past holiday season.

They made Chocoflan, chocolate cake on the bottom with flan on top. Not only was it a hit. It was a sign of things to come. 

Canales respects traditions but also believes you’re never too old to try something new. She brings that philosophy to the canary yellow building on 630 Western Avenue, the Pershing County Senior Center.

The San Diego native says she married a cowboy. They moved to Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and, most recently, Nevada. The couple has two boys- one in elementary school and one in day care. 

Last March, Canales began working out of the train depot as a crisis counselor with the Nevada Resilience Project (NRP).

“The grant was for anyone in crisis due to Covid,” she says. “My area was seniors.” However, because of the shutdown, she could not meet with clients in their homes. The nursing home was also temporarily off-limits. 

So, she started coming to the senior center weekly.

To put it mildly, the center went through some changes since then. Covid-related personnel issues  shut down in-house dining  on Aug. 2, 2021. However, a few people accomplished a minor miracle. They kept home bound deliveries going without interruption with over 30 hot meal deliveries every weekday.

“It was just Larry, me and Barb,” says Canales. ”Larry delivered while Barb and I prepared the food.” 

In the afternoons, Canales headed across town to her job at the community center. The Rackleys, both volunteers, fulfilled their other many obligations. 

Today the senior center has a full crew. Gianna Gonzalez delivers the home bound meals. Erika Canchola drives the bus. Brown and Jimenez cook. The staff is supported by several longtime volunteers. They include Mary Jo Zyski, Debbie King, Janice Rutherford, Lila Rodriguez, Matt Rose and Cory Snodgrass.

“They’ve been here a long time and we’ve learned a lot from them,” says Canales.

Rutherford and Zyski work under a state grant. By appointment, they help seniors with Medicare or Medicaid applications. They also assist them in applying for a hand with energy costs. 

Representatives from Legal Services for Seniors, Medicaid, Medicare, Catholic Charities and Care Chest also drop by regularly.

“When we run into trouble we still run to Larry or Barb,” says Canales. “If Gianna needs help with vouchers Larry will help her. If any senior doesn’t answer the door she’ll call the sheriff or Larry- and he’ll run out there. If the cooks have a hard time with the recipes, Barb’s there explaining how to do it.” 

Canales became director of the senior center in Sept. 2021. They reopened in-house dining on Oct. 4 after two months of closure.

The center held its annual Christmas wreath raffle last month. Next year, Canales plans to start the project a few weeks earlier to get the word out to the community.

The senior center just restarted its day trips to Fallon and Reno. On Friday, Jan. 28, Canchola will pick people up at their homes at 7 a.m. They’ll come to the center for a pancake breakfast before leaving for Reno. The center also ferries seniors to the Food Bank, Dollar Store, bank, Safeway or pharmacy.

All food-handlers, including Canales, are safe serve certified and follow the State guidelines for food preparation and serving.

“People are sometimes hesitant about trying something new, but if you want to taste the food, come on in. If you need a newsletter they’re on top of the desk. If you have any questions, just ask,” says Canales. “We’re here to help.”

The Pershing County Senior Center can be reached at 273-2291.