It isn’t everyday you get to help celebrate the 97th birthday of a really amazing woman. Almost forty friends and relatives had that opportunity on June 24th when they helped to help honor Eileen Sorensen. Although the official birthdate was June 26, the party was held on the Sunday to allow for more people to be able to attend. It was a festive scene at Espanas with orange, green,and yellow balloons and orange and yellow roses on the tables. Covering the walls were orange decorated posters covered with notes and quotes to Eileen telling her why she was so special from many well wishers. A flower decorated basket sat next to the guestbook to help collect the abundance of cards. The guest of honor, Eileen was presented with a yellow rose corsage and sat at the head table next to her son Niles Sorensen and his wife Cina, and Diana Ingram Thurston who had organized the party for her beloved friend. Ingram said that she was greatly helped by Marion Lisotto, Linda Khuwaja, Joyce Wenig, and Jean Willis. A big thank you was also offered up to Chandra Lewis who took the photographs on the way to performing a wedding.
Before the guests had the opportunity to all share their own experiences and connections with Eileen, there was a time for official recognitions. First Joyce Wenig read a letter from John Spevak who was unable to attend. John had Eileen in his Life Stories Writing Class for many years and is great fan of hers. Then Diana presented Sorensen with several honors from local dignitaries. There was a certificate honoring Eileen’s 97th birthday from the Mayor of Los Banos, Mike Villata and the City Council, a Certificate of Recognition from Assemblyman Noah Grey, and a beautiful ceramic and wood plaque from the Merced County Board of Supervisors.
Overwhelmed by the event, Eileen enjoyed the opportunity to hear from so many beloved friends, and blushed more than once as she listened to the words of praise and affection spoken about her, commenting she was glad to be alive to hear them. Still beaming and blooming, Sorensen got up to take the floor greeted by everyone’s rapt attention. Eileen spoke freely about her love of Los Banos and how warmly it had received her so many years ago, ” There really is no other place like this, there really isn’t. People here really care about each other. I don’t really think that I am as special as you all say, but I sure do thank you. There are people here today from so many places that are important to me. There are members of my Alzheimer’s Support Group which is very close to my heart. There are members of the United Methodist Women’s Group, members of The Valley Girls Book Club, and members of my bridge group as well as neighbors and friends who have come.”
Everyone enjoyed Sorensen’s advice on how it feels to be 97, and encouraged everyone to keep body and mind active, ” Sure, sometimes you may feel tired, but just keep on doing! That is what keeps you young,”
Among those in attendance were Nancy Arnett, Inez Baty, CeCe Gomez, Jean Aruba, Natalie Baca, Ursula Fawcett, Deborah Pryer, Julia Piwowarski, Charlene Martin, Ellena Avara, Sandra Juarez, Linda Kujawa, Sandy Peterson, Marion Lisotto, Margaret Patricio, Mary Anderson. Chandra Lewis, Bill and Debbie Tucker, J’Ette Buck, Laree Rogers, Stella Green, Gertrude Green, Martha Sanchez, Niles and Cina Sorensen, Rita Olson, Teresa Capraio, Joyce Wenig, and Diana Ingram Thurston.
Speaking recently to Sorensen, she says she is still smiling over her big day,” Some of my friends and family back in the Midwest said they did not know I was so important. I was so amazed to see so many people cared for,there were so many and each one meant so much. I will never forget anyone of them or that special day”