OP-ED: Some Retirees Feeling Harassed at Senior Centers


By Janice Ewing

It has recently been suggested that a feeling of harassment or hostility towards us exists at some of the senior centers here in Oakland.

Some paid members and guests have been verbally discouraged by staff in a couple of the centers from bringing healthier food alternatives to chips and dip, cakes and ice cream, even though they may have medical/health concerns.

Another issue is that the space allocated for the card playing in one of the centers presents a possible safety concern to the seniors with mobility accessories.

Some staff seem to think we’re getting together and having a “party,” which they want to discourage.

But it’s not a party! Yes, we celebrate birthdays once a month. Yes, we play cards with Marvin Gaye singing, “What’s Going On?” in the background.

Yes, we hug or “fist pump” once a week as we gather for 3-4 hours, but no, it’s not a party.

In this city of diversity, which is constantly evolving, we are embracing new cultures and discoveries, such as technology and health advancements.As time has passed, we baby boomers have lived through many important historical advances and learned to adapt in an ever-changing world.

We are taxpaying citizens who have worked hard for over half a century towards this day and opportunity to retire and join the ranks of AARP.


Many of us are joining senior centers to socialize, develop new friendships, discuss many current event issues, get our weekly copy of the Oakland Post and unwind.


“We gather together to ask the Lord’s Blessing,” is part of a traditional song heard in a variety of our churches.

As we are gathered together under the social guise of playing cards, we are actually learning how to take care of our physical and mental health needs.


We come once a week to discuss a myriad of issues and socialize, just like we did when we worked and discussed things with our co-workers in a variety of professional occupations.


While we are getting our social and musical groove on, we discuss different contemporary issues.

Health coverage advice, supporting breast and prostate cancer, home ownership problems, local news and politics are just a few of the many topics discussed on a weekly basis.


Our weekly visits to the senior centers are a mental health day of exercising our brains in what may appear to outsiders as a “party.”

But, no, it’s more than a party!


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