80-year-old Albuquerque woman banned from city senior centers

[anvplayer video=”5186772″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An 80-year-old Albuquerque woman reached out to KOB 4 to say she had been banned from every senior center in the metro – indefinitely – but she believes she didn’t do anything wrong.

Mary Loraine Montoya has lived in New Mexico her whole life and has lived in Albuquerque for the last 50 years. This last month, she was given a criminal trespass notice from APD when she tried to return to the senior center right by her house after getting banned.

“Back in October last year, I was placed under a 30-day suspension for bringing my lunch home from the senior center – the senior center is right behind our house,” Montoya said.

Montoya lives a few blocks away from the Los Volcanes Senior Center. For years, she has been getting lunch there.

“During the pandemic, we had lunches packed in Styrofoam boxes, placed in a grocery bag, and we had to drive around the parking lot and they handed the lunches to us,” Montoya said. “It was great, it was very good, so I just continued to bring my lunches home.”

Last fall – with Tupperware in hand – Montoya was approached by the manager of the senior center and told she was violating their code of conduct.

“The manager said we weren’t supposed to do that and we weren’t supposed to bring our lunch out of the building, so she placed me under a 30-day suspension,” Montoya said.

30 days went by, and Montoya received a letter in the mail saying she was welcome to come back to the senior center to discuss reinstatement. At that time, she had a cold and wasn’t going anywhere.

In order to get reinstated, the city would require Montoya to sign a copy of its code of conduct. KOB 4 looked at the document and only Rule 13 referred to food – saying, “Eating is prohibited in pool rooms or computer labs.” The deputy director clarified not being able to take food out of the building is a rule tied to their federal and state funding. Since that is not clear, Montoya refused to sign it.

This back and forth has gone on for months now and the last time Montoya tried to go to the senior center, they got the police involved.

“That was a shocker! I went on June 30, the last day of June,” Montoya said. “It was a Friday, we call it Flea Market Friday.”

However, she was greeted with flashing lights and a notice.

“It was called a criminal trespass notification and she wrote it out and the manager signed it and the officer signed,” Montoya said. “Now the current letter classifies me as a criminal senior citizen, trespassing senior citizen centers, and that’s a shocker. I didn’t do anything to deserve that at all.”

Chris Sanchez, the deputy director for the city’s Department of Senior Affairs, says he knows about Montoya’s situation.

“It is very rare that we temporarily suspend someone in this case. The person has been spoken to several times and chose to continue to not follow what we were asking them to follow,” Sanchez said. “We have attempted several times to reach out and have a conversation, but the participant continues to refuse over and over again.”

Sanchez said the ball is in Montoya’s court.

“If she is listening to this, we would love to have a conversation with the participant so we can reinstate her,” Sanchez said.

KOB 4 asked Montoya if she wants to be reinstated. She said at this point she’s not sure she even wants to go back to the senior center, but she would like the mayor to look into how the Senior Affairs Department is run and make sure the managers treat the seniors with respect.