The Post Visits…” Series: Part 2 West Oakland Senior Center Welcomes a New Director

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Welcoming the new director of the West Oakland Senior Center are, left to right, Advisory Council Chair Bobby Wilkerson, Director Jendayi “Jay” Santana, Advisory Council Vice-Chair Brenda Lewis, Advisory Council Treasurer Beverly Quinn, and Center Administrative Assistant Sharia Lewis. Photo by Sue Taylor.

The Post News Group is visiting locations that serve communities around the Bay Area. The Post’s purpose is to inform readers of services various organizations offer and to recognize them as role models.

Our second visit in this series brought the Post back to the West Oakland Senior Center where new Director Jendayi “Jay” Santana was welcomed by community folks, as advisory council members, friends and family came together at an afternoon reception-luncheon on March 14.

The Center, founded 20 years ago, serves approximately 1,000 people a month; offers classes; information seminars; food assistance; service referrals and much more. West Oakland Senior Center is also a city-designated disaster shelter.

Administrative Assistant Sharia Lewis ably served as interim director until Santana was appointed two months ago. Lewis will continue to serve the new director as a knowledgeable and valued staff-person.

Santana is a “local,” who attended Fremont High School, has her B.A., and earned a Masters of Public Administration degree from Cal State East Bay. Santana lives in Alameda, has family all over the Bay Area and knows the community well.

“My academic background started with graphic design for non-profits and social service entities, which lead me to a social work career,” said Director Santana. She worked with the Norcal Presbyterian Homes and Services organization for 10 years, and for two years in Oakland’s paratransit program before coming to the Senior Center.

Coming from the City of Oakland Human Services Department, Santana was in charge of the paratransit program where she expanded service from four locations to 44 during the time she was there.

“West Oakland Senior Center retired Director Dorothy Poston is a good friend of mine,” said Santana, “and though I have been here two months, I still want to learn more about existing services and programs. At some point, I’m hoping to introduce inter-generational programs to enhance the entire experience here.”

With an Advisory Board headed by Bobby Wilkerson, many volunteers and staff, along with special instructors who offer workshops, the center is an active place. The center’s motto is: “Where Ability is Ageless.” The “New To Me” boutique, is open Monday-Thursday from 11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., a great place to make donations and shop. Upstairs is a beautiful event space available for rent, where a local church holds services on Sundays.

The West Oakland Health Center is located across the street from Defremery Park at 1724 Adeline Street, Oakland, CA. For more information call: 510-238-7016.

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