Bella Vida dishes out 200 meals on first day of operations

More than 200 guests sit awaiting the first lunch to be served at the new Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center on Golden Valley Road in Canyon Country. Cory Rubin/The Signal

For the very first time, about 200 members of the community broke bread together at the new Santa Clarita Valley senior center, Bella Vida, for lunch Monday.

“Let service begin,” Joanna Vallelunga, director of food services, said as she signaled servers to roll out the carts of freshly prepared meals for the scores of guests who gathered in the large ballroom and cheered as the food was served.

Monday marked the official day of operations at the new senior center. And by 8 a.m., the energy was high, reminiscent of that of last week’s dedication ceremony when hundreds of people toured the 30,000-square-foot building and all that it has to offer.

At the event, center officials and local elected dignitaries partook in a ribbon cutting and shared what the opening of a new locale at 27180 Golden Valley Road meant for the community.

“We’re excited and we’re proud,” Peggy Rasmussen, one of the lead organizers behind the project and president of the board of directors for the SCV Committee on Aging, which oversees the center, said Wednesday at the ceremony. “This has been a treasure of mine, a vision, a focus, and I considered it for a really long time my baby. And, today, I am letting go of my baby and giving it all to you, the community and the seniors that have been participating for many years and the staff.”

Surrounded by other attendees in a round table before lunch, guest Manuel Chavez said in Spanish, “This place really is for all of us. We’re fascinated to be here because this is like our second home. It’s a home for seniors of all nationalities and backgrounds.”

Elena Peralta, Amelia Chavez and Aurora Benson were among other guests who chimed in on Manuel’s comments about the new facility, sharing their excitement to continue volunteering and seeing their friends from the former Market Street location at the new Bella Vida.

While the majority spent their early afternoon hours in the ballroom for lunch, some guests took the opportunity to play billiards, learn about upcoming classes or lounge by the fireplace in the lobby.

After being approved by the Santa Clarita City Council in July 2015, Bella Vida is now a two-story facility on 2.5 acres of newly developed land with amenities such as an adult day care, a library, fitness center, dance studio, multi-purpose rooms and 8,700 square feet for outdoor events.

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