SCV Senior Center: Through the generations

Attendees file into the new senior center for tours at the ribbon cutting on Golden Valley Road in Canyon Country. Cory Rubin/The Signal

When the Santa Clarita Valley hit a growth spurt in the early 1970s, new needs arose for many public services — including those for older residents.

That, said Barbara Cochran, former board member of the SCV Committee on Aging, or SCVCOA, was the impetus that led to the creation of the SCV Senior Center. The SCVCOA was formed in 1972 in response to the growing senior need and incorporated as a nonprofit in 1976.

“Technically, it’s 47 years old, which is a long time for a charitable organization,” said SCVCOA President Peggy Rasmussen.

During the late 1970s, the SCVCOA teamed up with then-Supervisor Baxter Ward to begin plans for a senior center. In 1980, then-Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Ward’s successor, continued Ward’s work, and L.A. County purchased the land to built the SCV Senior Center, Cochran said.

The Senior Center moved in to 22900 Market St. in Newhall in 1983, and began hiring and training staff as well as developing some of the senior-focused programs still available to seniors today, Cochran said.

The SCVCOA grew, and the center thrived.

“Many programs were initiated to assist the growing senior population,” Cochran said. “Among them being ‘home delivered meals,’ which was a definite plus because so many of our seniors were homebound.”

In 1991, L.A. County designated the center as a “Focal Point on Aging,” a program where older adults could obtain access to nutritional services, information and assistance, transportation, and other services.

Since then, the center has grown to provide comprehensive services to 10,000 seniors with more than 30 programs, including delivery of 62,520 meals to homebound seniors and more than 48,000 meals at the center annually, according to the SCVCOA.

“Charitable organizations flourish and then their needs change and then they flourish again and that is a lot of what we’ve done in our past history,” said Rasmussen.

The SCVCOA recognized a need to focus on the huge influx of “silver-haired” people in the community, which Rasmussen called the “silver tsunami.”

With a parking lot that overflowed to the streets, it was clear the senior community had outgrown the center — leading the SCVCOA to launch the efforts that led to the creation of the all-new senior center set to open next week on Golden Valley Road, replacing the Market Street facility.

The SCVCOA and the county performed a needs assessment, which projected more than 9,600 additional seniors in the community within the next four years, raising the total to 42,000 by 2022, said emeritus board member Don Kimball.

“That then showed us exactly what we were up against and our numbers were going to be massive,” Rasmussen said. “That great wave is going to catch up to the demands of our community and the demands of our center, so we started investing and planning.”

For more information on Bella Vida, the new senior center, read Tammy Murga’s story here.

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