Our View | Barger Delivers Welcome Surprise for Senior Center

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By The Signal Editorial Board

Forgive us for still feeling a little Thanksgiving afterglow, but today we’re especially thankful for a current example of the power of teamwork.

And in this case, it’s a brand of teamwork that is going to make a huge difference in the quality of life for our community’s growing senior population, with the construction of a brand new Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center expected to be completed next year.

On Monday, L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger arranged to meet Senior Center Executive Director Kevin MacDonald and Senior Center Board President Peggy Rasmussen so they could give the supervisor a guided tour of the construction site of the new center.

But the “tour” was a ruse for a very special surprise.

Barger, whose 5th Supervisorial District includes the SCV, brought with her an additional $500,000 in county funding — a much-needed contribution that pushes the new Senior Center ever so close to the finish line on its capital improvement fundraising drive to complete the project.

She didn’t tell MacDonald and Rasmussen she would be arriving with a check in hand.

“It’s a surprise, and it’s absolutely out of the blue,” Rasmussen said. “But it was a delight.”

We’re glad to see Barger was able to have a little fun with the presentation of the check by turning it into a surprise — and we’re all the more glad to see this important project edging closer to full funding and completion.

It truly has been a team effort. With the contribution delivered by Barger on Monday, the county has now contributed $3.5 million toward the $11.4 million cost of the project.

That matches the contributions made by the city of Santa Clarita, which has made improving services for seniors one of its top priorities. Between the county and the city, our local governments have ponied up $7 million to create something truly special for our senior community.

Once you add in all of the contributions from local individuals and businesses, the project has closed the funding gap to $500,000.

The new facility will be a welcome change for the thousands of local seniors who rely on the SCV Senior Center for a wide variety of programs, including social events, trips, transportation, meal gatherings, live entertainment, home-delivered meals for homebound seniors, wellness programs, and adult respite day care that allows caregivers to take a break from the rigors of caring for seniors affected by memory loss and other illnesses.

The existing Senior Center, on Market Street in Newhall, has served the SCV well since 1983, but the facility itself is aging and doesn’t include the space, modern technology and amenities that our growing and energetic senior population needs.

The new 30,000-square-foot facility, under construction on Golden Valley Road, is closer to the center of our valley and will provide not only a home for the center’s existing programs and services, but also new ones designed to meet local seniors’ changing needs. Among them: a health and wellness center in partnership with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, a second-career center, a technology center, an education center in partnership with College of the Canyons, a financial information center in partnership with AARP and a center for senior rights.

Also included will be modern upgrades like a banquet hall with a capacity of 250, a fireplace lounge and library, multipurpose rooms, a fitness center and dance studio, and an outdoor cabana with concert seating.

Who will use the facility and benefit from its services? Potentially any of us. If you plan on spending your golden years in Santa Clarita, this new center will be a valuable resource and a cherished place to gather with your peers.

It’s truly been the result of teamwork among the city of Santa Clarita, L.A. County, the Senior Center’s management, board and staff, and community members. (And, you can still contribute at newseniorcenter.com.)

On this Thanksgiving weekend, we thank everyone who has made it possible — from those who made the donations that kick-started it, to the special “surprise” Barger delivered on Monday, and every contribution in between.

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