July 23, 1997 in City

Senior Center Looking For A New Place To Call Home Downtown Gathering Place Must Vacate Current Site By Sept. 1

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A downtown center serving 300 senior citizens a week could be forced to close temporarily if it can’t find new quarters.

That has people like Rose Pettier worried.

Pettier, 71, has been widowed for four years and has a problem with loneliness.

She eats lunch every weekday at the Mid-City Senior Center, a Meals on Wheels site at 1017 W. First.

If the center is forced to close even temporarily, “I wouldn’t eat as good,” Pettier said. “I can’t afford a lot of food. I wouldn’t have anything to do. (The center) helps me keep my mind off my problems.”

Besides lunch, Pettier plays pinochle and cribbage at the center, and has done so since her husband died.

“If you walk in the door and see what a difference it makes in their lives … we have to have a spot for them,” said Cheri Mataya, center director.

Of the seniors who dine there, 73 percent live below the poverty line; 76 percent are disabled; and 63 percent live alone, according to a survey by the county Senior Nutrition Program.

The center was supposed to be out of the West First building by Aug. 1. That deadline has been pushed back to Sept. 1, when the Spokane Children’s Museum will move in.

While still in the process of narrowing its options for a permanent residence, the center’s board of directors is looking for an interim home - preferably 3,500 square feet of affordable downtown space with kitchen facilities and access for the disabled.

It could take up to a year to find a permanent site, Mataya said.

The center’s board of directors has been collaborating with community leaders to ensure seniors in the west downtown neighborhood have a place to get what might be their only nutritious meal of the day.

“Some of us don’t have stoves and can’t cook, or they’re in sweltering hot apartments,” said Alvina Charlton, 64. “(Mid-City) is a home away from (home). Sometimes it’s better than home.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo


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