A long road: Senior Center took many people many years to create

February, 2018 Posted in Community

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 4.42.49 PMBy Ruth McWayne

Santiam Senior Center’s beginnings date back to Jan. 24, 2006, when a small cadre of community members met at the Stayton Fire Department to brainstorm ideas for a senior center in our area.

They worked tirelessly week after week. They came up with the name, Santiam Senior Center, to represent the entire Santiam area, formed the 501c.3 non-profit, and visited many other senior centers in surrounding communities to borrow ideas. They spent hours writing the bylaws, held open-forum community meetings seeking input, organized fundraisers, and visited many places, seeking a temporary space to open the senior center.

Bylaws were completed and adopted by the board on March 30, 2006. Santiam Senior Center was off and running.

Those people who worked so hard included Santiam Senior Center’s first Board of Directors: President Greg McWayne, Vice-President Margaret Burns, Secretary Ruth McWayne, Treasurer Mary Herniesen, and members at large, Lee Hazelwood, Pat Clokey and Sandy Johnson.

In June, 2006, the entire bank account contained $76. The first Santiam Senior Center location opened on June 29, 2006, in the recreation room of The Church of God of Prophecy located at 10637 Stayton-Marion Road.  The center was open Wednesday and Thursday noon – 4 p.m., and hosted by board members. It was a place to start while a more permanent location was sought. Board members contributed some of their own money to pay the rent. They began signing up the first members, with dues set at $15/year.

The Santiam Senior Center had its first entry in Stayton’s Fourth of July Parade in 2006, too. Kent Hazelwood drove his 1929 Model A Ford in the parade with a Santiam Senior Center banner on the front and back. I walked the route, handing out 163 informational flyers about the new senior center. We held our first rummage sale on July 7 and 8 that year and netted nearly $2,000! We were on our way!

Unfortunately, the temporary center was not convenient to many members of the community, and wasn’t very successful in that location. By late 2006 the center was only open one afternoon a week.  Lack of community involvement ultimately contributed to the temporary center’s closing in early 2007.

It proved just a hiccup in the progress, however, because the idea for a senior center had taken root, and there was money in the bank.

On Nov. 7, 2007, “reformation” began with another meeting at Stayton Fire District’s building. Greg McWayne, Lee Hazelwood and Sharon Stevenson were appointed board members, and it was decided that funds would remain in the senior center account. Board members would begin a new search for a location in town.

The senior center was “on hold” for more than a year and a half.  But by May 2008 we were publishing and mailing an informative newsletter called “Faded Pages.”

Then, in early 2009, reformation continued in earnest. The board held community meetings in an effort to revive the Santiam Senior Center. Maurice’s Bistro at Marion Estates in Sublimity and the community center in Stayton were considered. Board members met at Stayton Public Library and the Covered Bridge Café to continue their work. Santiam Senior Center joined the Stayton-Sublimity Chamber of Commerce, and participated in Summerfest. Greg and I began regularly attending “Greeters” a weekly networking meeting with community business people, to publicize the revival of the senior center.

Greg McWayne and Lee Hazelwood were steadfast in their commitment to find a place where the seniors in our communities could regularly meet and call their own. They began meeting in the fall of 2009 with Don Lawrence, of Santiam Cooperative Telephone Company (SCTC) and worked out an agreement in late 2009, which ultimately secured the present site at 41818 Kingston-Jordan Road.

Santiam Senior Center owes a great deal of thanks to SCTC, which subsidized the center with funds to remodel the kitchen and purchase and install cabinets, a range and refrigerator. SCTC also helped equip the center with the tables and chairs still enjoyed today. Art, books, DVDs, puzzles, games, and furniture have all been donated over the years by members.

Santiam Senior Center held its official opening Jan. 14, 2010 at the present site.

Board Members at that time were President Greg McWayne, Vice President Lee Hazelwood, Secretary Margaret Burns, Treasurer Jean Counes, members at large, Leslie Burns and Mel Tufteskog.

Board members have come and gone, serving at least a two-year stint in their positions. They, and many other unnamed seniors, have worked very hard to sustain and improve the Santiam Senior Center.

It has taken a “village” of dedicated people to make the senior center a success. Long may it thrive.

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