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September 18, 2021

Mural ushers in new Silver Circle room at Watsonville Hospital

WATSONVILLE—A group of four local artists is creating a mural inside the Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley’s (CHT) building at Watsonville Hospital (WCH), where the volunteer-led Silver Circle senior program has found a new home.

Kati D’Amore, Joyce Oroz, Linda Bjornson and Joanne Andrews are members of the Aromas Hills Artisans (AHA), a large group of artists from the rural town in the south end of the Pajaro Valley. The money for the mural was donated by AHA.

The idea to create the piece, which takes up an entire wall in a small room at the CHT building, came from Oroz, who volunteers with Silver Circle. 

“We wanted to add something to the space, make the room seem a bit bigger,” Oroz said. “It felt so small when we first walked in here.”

The mural is a beach dune scene, depicting a flock of pelicans flying over a blue sky and aquamarine waves. Oroz said each artist has taken charge of one aspect of the mural. For instance, D’Amore painted the sky, while Bjornson and Andrews worked on the birds and beach.

On Wednesday morning, Orzo was touching up the deep green dune grass. 

“We’re all sort of pitching in,” she said.

Silver Circle was formed years ago by WCH’s outreach program, back when the healthcare facility was owned by a company from Tennessee. Eventually, the volunteers who worked it took it over, and it is now completely independently run, offering seniors everything from chair yoga to arts and craft classes. 

Until recently, Silver Circle was held in the Redwood Room, located inside the main hospital building across the parking lot. When CHT decided they wanted to move its computer training room there, volunteers asked WCH if they could just swap spaces. 

“Ownership of the hospital has changed so many times, but the current administration has been very flexible,” said program facilitator Sonia Westphal. “We’ve been allowed to take things down, make plans for what we want to do with the space … and of course, the mural.”

During the pandemic, Westphal has offered many of the Silver Circle classes via Zoom. But she said she hopes they will be able to do in-person programming, in their new location, very soon. 

“We’re trying to finish the room by the Tuesday following Labor Day,” she said. “Fingers crossed that we’re not shut down again. We’re getting ready to get back to our programs.”

Currently, only Silver Circle’s fitness programming is definitely returning; others are tentative. Westphal said they are just waiting to see what happens. If allowed, they would like to reinstate their book club, lunch club and monthly potlucks, art classes and maybe even a holiday party. 

“We’re hoping, but because of Covid we don’t know,” she said.

The new space at the CHT building is located on the bottom floor, accessed by either stairs or an elevator. It offers volunteers and attendees of the program easy access to bathrooms and a waiting room.

“We’re very grateful to have this space,” Westphal said. 

To learn more about Silver Circle, contact Wetphal at [email protected]

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.

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