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7Everyday Hero finds family by volunteering, teaching at Denver's Highland Recreation Center

Posted at 11:20 AM, Jul 01, 2019

DENVER — Happiness is contagious. Just ask Ana Morales.

"It makes me so happy to be here," the 72-year-old volunteer said.

Each week, you'll find her at the Denver Highland Recreation Center teaching Spanish and meditation classes to seniors.

Morales first came to the recreation center three years ago feeling a little lost and lonely after retiring.

"I didn't know anybody," she said.

Butt then she began taking exercise classes at the center and found a community of friends.

"Most of all, I gained a family — an extended family — with the staff," she said. "I can volunteer anywhere else, but this is my second house."

One of her students, Ida Lambert, described Morales as "wonderful."

"She doesn't get paid for what she does and the more I learned about her and the things she does here at the Denver Highland Center, the more impressed I was," she said.

Learning keeps seniors' minds sharp and fends off loneliness and depression.

"There are all sorts of different activities here: puzzles, different groups and outings and very strong community center," Morales said.

She said teaching gives her purpose and reminds her that happiness is even better when shared with the people you love.

"You receive so much, that you just wanna pay back," she said. "The hero for me are these people who work so hard to provide service for the seniors."

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.