Approximately three hundred members gathered to celebrate the East Oakland Senior Citizen anniversary gala.
Twenty-five years ago a group of East Oakland seniors decided retired seniors need an outlet to keep them engaged in positive, healthy activity. Last Friday, they celebrated their 25th year as the “East Oakland Senior Citizens, Incorporated,” also known as “Inc.” The theme, “Leaving a Roadmap for Future Generations” acknowledged their roadmaps to success and their struggle to have their own club house celebrated by hundreds of grateful seniors.
The journey was not easy. When “Inc,” a nonprofit organization, approached the Alameda County Department on Aging, they were not initially successful. Fortunately, around this time, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave the City of Oakland its first Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) intended to fund programs in communities. “Inc” immediately started seeking a site for their center, and after discovering that a medical clinic located at Edes and 98th Avenue was relocating, they applied for funds—the beginning of many obstacles before success was attained.”
Senior groups throughout the city had been approaching the city for funding unsuccessfully, so when the CDBG funds became available, the State offered $350,000. There were multiple applications, culminating with the State splitting the funds between a contingency of downtown seniors seeking to develop the Veterans Building at Harrison and East Oakland seniors who built their center, including the Brookfield Library, which was completed in 1992.
East Oakland Senior Center offers services ranging from exercise classes, arts and crafts, special holiday events, trips, a senior choir and other activities that keep seniors engaged. Member Mary Blanchard stated that despite the myriad of services “The best thing about this senior center are the people.”
Members were entertained by their own East Oakland Senior Center Performing Arts Choir and the Youth Orchestra of Southern Alameda County.
Keynote Speaker Bryan Ricks, Vice Chairman of Commission on Aging said that “Seniors in Oakland are 13 percent of the population but 78 percent of them vote.” That is the legacy you have forged in this community as an example of the power of civil engagement. “
East Oakland Senior Center, Incorporated’s 25 years of service is testimony to their power.