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Jefferson Award Winner Helps San Francisco Seniors Get Into The Groove

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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — For decades Russell Breslauer taught students accounting at Chabot College. You might say he knows his way around numbers. Now, this week’s Jefferson Award winner counting to a different beat.

You don’t have to be good with numbers to follow along in Russell Breslauer’s class, but it helps to count along.

For eight years, Russell has taught line dancing classes at the Golden Gate Park Senior Center in San Francisco. The students can’t be more appreciative.

“I enjoy dancing in his class. I tell everyone about it,” said Cesar Ribeiro. “Start with him, and I guarantee you’ll be a good dancer.”

From Mambo to Merengue, Russell’s enthusiasm for dance is infectious.

“I enjoy seeing people learn things,” said Russell. “I always have.”

For 30 years, Russell taught accounting at Chabot College. But he always had an interest in International Folk Dancing.

Once retired, he volunteered at the Senior Center where he exchanged his study plans for step sheets.

For beginning line dancing classes, he creates spread sheets with links to YouTube videos.

His iPod Nano brings an international flavor to match this diverse community.

From Latin pop to Chinese music, there’s something for everybody.

“Line dancing is so popular here that a lot of time the classes get filled up on the first day of registration!” said Victor Lee.

Victor is program coordinator at the Golden Gate Senior Center, where 300 to 500 seniors visit daily. He says without dedicated volunteers like Russell, there wouldn’t be the variety of activities that are so important.

“He brings a connection with the seniors,” Victor explained. “They get to socialize with other seniors. Also, physically, they are getting their regular exercise.”

It is a lot more challenging than it looks. Not only are you getting exercise, you are also using your memory to remember the steps and your brain to learn them.

“You are mixing a whole lot of things, physical, mental, and emotional because you are working with music,” said Russell. “I love it!”

And so do his students.

For his years of volunteering to share his expertise and enthusiasm with San Francisco senior citizens, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Russell Breslauer.

Russell just turned 69 years old and he and his wife of 44 years, Ellen, have no intention of slowing down.

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