The spacious room was set up with rows of green cushioned chairs, ready for another session of “Chat with Rabbi Yudi” at a retirement community in Tucson. As I walked in, I found a single person sitting there. “It’s just me,” she said sheepishly. “Will you still stay?”

“Of course!” I replied.

For the past few years I’ve been regularly visiting independent and assisted living communities as part of Chabad Tucson’s Sunshine Club. Working with the late Barry Hirsch and other dedicated volunteers, we have conducted pre-Shabbat services, holiday programs and study groups.

Arizona’s population is aging (second only to Florida). As of 2013, 17.2 percent of persons living in Pima County were 65 years and over, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2020, one in four Arizona residents will be over 60 years of age.

What triggered my involvement with the senior community was the passing of my grandmother, Gita Ceitlin. A petite woman, she survived Communist oppression in Russia, escaped to Paris, and settled in Montreal, Canada, where she launched a slew of community programs and established institutions that still exist today.

It was her care for the elderly that was perhaps most exemplary. She mobilized our family, neighbors and local teenagers to engage with senior citizens. We would check in on their wellbeing, share memories, and create new ones with holiday celebrations and meaningful exchanges.

With incredible devotion and a gentle touch she led this effort for decades. When she passed away on December 17, 2011, it was clear that her legacy would live on. My aunt and cousins now head Sunshine Clubs in Montreal, Toronto, and Brooklyn’s Sea Gate neighborhood. And I am striving to do the same in Tucson.

So when an elderly woman waited to chat with me on that Thursday afternoon, I couldn’t imagine turning her down. A single soul is an entire universe, the Mishnah teaches. I sat down, and she began speaking about her childhood and upbringing in the Northeast, and how she ended up in sunny Arizona to be close to her daughter.

She asked about Kabbalah, Adam and Eve, various Jewish customs, and the extent of Satan’s powers. But then came the most important question. “What is your opinion about joining a Christian prayer group?” she asked.

Aside from a Jewish book club, there wasn’t much of a Jewish feel at this retirement community. So when a friend repeatedly invited her to become a paying member of the Christian fellowship, she strongly considered it.

“There should be no reason for a Jewish woman like you to get involved in any other religion,” I said. We went on to discuss the richness of Jewish heritage, the lesson of Jewish history, and the pride we ought to have in our faith and our people. I assured her that Chabad would be coming back on a more regular basis.

“How was the chat?” the program director of the retirement community asked me on my way out.

I paused for a moment and then said, “I had one person in the audience today, but I believe this has been the most productive visit yet.”