The award also highlighted the Atascadero Senior Center

ATASCADERO — At the end of May, the Atascadero Senior Center had a lot to celebrate when its very own secretary, Carol Benton, received Senior Citizen of the Year. The award was part of San Luis Obispo’s celebration of Older Americans Month and not only highlighted Benton’s hard work at Atascadero’s Senior Citizens United, Inc. but also drew attention to everything the center does for the city.

“It was a real surprise. I had no idea that it was happening. I was really very honored by it,” said Benton of the award. “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to broadcast my volunteer things that I do. I do it because this is what I want to do and I don’t expect any rewards or any acknowledgement, particularly at all, and so it turned out to be a great honor for me. I was really surprised at how much that made me feel, and what I was doing was really worthwhile to the community and to everyone.”

Benton has been the senior center’s secretary for close to three years. While officers usually serve a term of two years, that can be extended if membership approves, and because of the great job Benton does, she has continued as secretary.


“I have the skills that allow me to do that [be secretary]. They’ll probably keep me on for a while,” added Benton. 

When she moved to Atascadero in 2015, Benton showed up at the senior center to see what they had to offer the community, but at the time it was closed as they transitioned to new leadership. She returned six months later when they were back open, and from that moment on she has been a part of the framework of the place.

“I had retired and just moved here, so I was interested in finding out what there was for seniors here,” continued Benton. “I’m a very movement-oriented person, so I started taking Tai Chi classes sometime in 2016. Then when the person who led the class could no longer lead it, and was actually getting ready to move to another location, I took over the class.”

In fact, in the application that President Carey Rogers sent in to nominate Benton, she mentioned both Benton’s Tai Chi Chih and Qi Qing classes that she teaches (combined) a total of four days a week. She also facilitates the center’s Socrates Club, which meets twice a week and is where members discuss various topics.

“It was really an honor for everybody, and everybody was very proud that our center got acknowledged because a lot ofpeople don’t know we exist, what we do, or why we’re here. It’s to provide services for seniors,” added Benton.

Actually, no one knew that Rogers had nominated Benton. They had talked about getting the senior center in the running somehow, but Rogers took things into her own hands, and it wasn’t until she found out that Benton had won the award that she told anyone what she had done.

Benton was presented with her award via a Zoom presentation on Wednesday, May 22, and she found out she had won about a week before that.

“We announced it [the presentation] to our membership, and we moved our membership meeting and our board meeting to the Wednesday that that Zoom meeting was occurring,” Benson said.

They celebrated in the living room space of the senior center with a setup that made it so that everyone who was there could watch as Benton was given her well-deserved award for Senior Citizen of the Year.

“I’m here almost five days a week, and I just got to know everything really well and got invested in trying to help the center move forward and be organized and have board members,” concluded Benton.

Congratulations to Carol and the Atascadero Senior Center. For more information on all the senior center has to offer residents, call them at (805) 466-4674.

Featured Image: Carol Benton holds her SLO County Senior Citizen of the Year plaque in front of the Atascadero Senior Center. Photo by Christianna Marks