Kathleen Walford shared her dream of establishing a Senior Center and met with Missoula Human Resource Council. The minutes of that first meeting read: "and dreaming wildly, there will be a place where people can come in off the street to rest, to have fellowship and to attend meetings of interest to them."
The State Council on aging approved a project to start a senior center and after much searching. They found the Victoria Hotel at 424 N Higgins. Many volunteers and generous donations converted the decrepit hotel into a new center. The board resolved not to ask the public for money, various projects provided funds.
A building purchased from Garden City Floral on N Higgins was utilized until 1976 at which time the current building was purchase. After remodeling in contained office spaces, dining, and snack bar areas and restrooms. The maple dance floor from "Roller Fun" was hand crafted and installed by members. The downstairs contained the Bargain basement and pool tables.
Current research has determined that people, who stay physically and mentally active, involved with others and the community, live longer. Our goal is to keep as many seniors as possible involved and active and connected to life. Activities offered when the Center was established included cards, checkers, painting, and sewing classes all of which are still offered today. We now included computer classes, pancake suppers, trips and tours, monthly dances, Bingo, potluck dinners, quilting, exercise classes and a variety of board games.
The Center is primarily self-funded and focuses on providing a place where people gather to share time, have fun, interact with people of all ages and to volunteer. Members also provide a very necessary support group for each other. The fellowship identified as part of the original goal is still very much a part of the Center. Sharing time, meals, laughter, and some tears with each other turns strangers into what actually becomes a caring family. Between working on projects, enjoying each other's company, helping each other, supporting each other in times of crises and sincerely mourn the lost when a death occurs demonstrates that caring family that has developed at the Center.
We maintain our self-funding status with various money making/fun activities including: food demonstrations at local super markets, stew dinners, bazaars and the coat and package check at Southgate Mall during the Christmas season. The Center functions with four paid positions and over 50,000 hours of volunteer work. Our dues are $25 annually and members must be 50 or older.
We feel that we are fulfilling Kathleen's dream....