“They have lots of activities to choose from,” said longtime member Maxine Richards. “It’s one of the best senior centers because it’s really well-coordinated. And I don’t think we cost the city much money.”
The building at 370 Kings Village Road was constructed in 1989 after a group of seniors applied for, and received a $100,000 grant from the state, according to founding member Virginia Allender who served as the first treasurer for the center. The City of Scotts Valley donated the land, which at one time housed airport buildings for Skypark, and the city council decided to add an additional $200,000 to build the center.
The building officially opened Oct. 17, 1989 — the same day as the Loma Prieta Earthquake shook the central coast. The building was immediately used by the city as a shelter for those in need, and the kitchen was used to cook meals for those whose homes were unstable.
Within a week, President George H.W. Bush laded at the defunct airport and his staff were given use of the center while he surveyed the damage caused by the quake.
Upon Bush’s leaving, Allender said, members of the center placed a sign in the appropriate place that said “George H.W. Bush sat here!”
Janet Oneto was the center’s first coordinator and was hired under the umbrella of the Scotts Valley Parks and Recreation Department because fundraisers could not provide enough money to pay for benefits and vacation time, Richards said.
Today, Darshana Croskrey is the half-time senior center coordinator. All other programming is done by volunteers. And the programming is significant. On the first Friday of each month, there is a potluck lunch. There are regular movie days, dance classes, computer training, art classes, holiday parties, bocce ball, Zumba, health news forums, card games, writing class and mandy other offerings. On the last Thursday of each month, the center holds a birthday party for all of the members who were born in that month.
“We really have a great senior center,” Richards said. “One of the best in the county.”
Meals on Wheels delivers lunches to the center, and a van is available to pick up city residents and take them to the center for activities and games.
Santa Cruz resident Jay Devore has been attending senior center activities for 20 years.
“It’s all about making friends. Staying young at heart,” Devore, 79, said.
Devore, who performed a guitar routine during the ho-down, said he enjoys the friendliness of people at the center.
“I try to have fun every time I go out,” he said.
The center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. A monthly newsletter includes a schedule of special events. A senior center membership is available for $20 per year, and lifetime memberships are $100. For information: 438-8666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.