A New Senior Center is Born
Since its inception more than nine years ago, The Senior Club has been housed in Gig Harbor’s Boys & Girls Club, but with the recent sale of the building to the Peninsula School District, the seniors have now been displaced. With a move-out date set for June 20, area seniors would have nowhere to go. Fortunately, the tides have turned, as it was recently announced at an update meeting on May 3 that the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation has entered into a fiscal sponsor arrangement with the newly formed Gig Harbor Senior Center (formerly the Senior Club), which gives the organization the benefit of a 501 (c)(3), among many other features.
The Gig Harbor Senior Club (GHSC) joins the roster of Greater Gig Harbor Foundation’s (GGHF) half dozen projects and programs. Dr. Julie Ann Gustanski of the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation shared GGHF received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit determination from the IRS in 2006, explaining the process an organization undergoes to become a nonprofit. The ability to offer fiscal sponsorship to community initiatives consistent with GGHF’s mission and within 501 (c)(3) regulations enables GGHF to provide an expedient pathway to becoming a nonprofit organization while fulfilling its mission to build, bridge and enrich our community. Gig Harbor Senior Club can operate as a nonprofit organization under the Foundation’s umbrella.
The officers of the newly formed GHSC board were introduced and include Joyce Schultz, president; Betty Lilienthal, vice president; Marc Avni, treasurer; Betty Ringlee, member at large; and Claire Predergast, secretary.
Panelists Dr. Gustanski, along with Jeni Woock, City of Gig Harbor councilmember; Missy Hill, PenMet Parks Board president; and Joyce Schultz, Gig Harbor Senior Center president, shared how their organizations fit into the equation of the future of the Gig Harbor Senior Center.
Avni, panel moderator, stated, “It is no longer the Senior Club, it’s now the Gig Harbor Senior Center. Without the connection to the Boys & Girls Club, we could not raise or accept funds or write grants, which is why Dr. Julie Ann Gustanski from the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation is here today.”
Woock explained that the city provided approximately $250,000 to the Boys & Girls Club for the Senior Club’s operating expenses when it opened nine-and-a-half years ago. The city and the Boys & Girls Club are currently in negotiations on the amount that will come back to the GHSC.
“At the last Park District meeting, Betty and Joyce brought a list of needs to our Board. The Board took the requests seriously, and we think we have a possible location that may fit a senior center’s needs,” said Hill.
Schultz reported that Harbor Covenant Church has offered space on Mondays and Wednesdays during the summer months, adding “Our relationship with the Catholic Community Services hot lunch and foot care programs remains intact, as well as other activities. The church’s generosity enables us to continue our search for a long-term temporary home while we hunt for a permanent solution. It is necessary for our exercise programs to move to various locations. We are grateful to all of the churches and organizations that have been contacted in the pursuit of a home. When one door closes, another opens.”
She thanked Gustanski for “providing the opportunity through the foundation for the senior population of the greater Gig Harbor area to find a place to call their own and to continue providing the ‘welcoming and caring home away from home’ they have enjoyed for the past nine-and-a-half years.”
The Task Force group includes members from PenMet Parks, City of Gig Harbor, Pierce County, Boys & Girls Club and the Seniors.
Schultz and Lilienthal met with the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board. The Chamber invited GHSC to participate in the Maritime Gig Festival, where they collected “Signatures of Support” for the continuance of a viable senior center.
“Many seniors benefit from membership in the center,” Joyce noted. “When a senior walks through the door and returns, it is claimed as a victory for the center.” Lilienthal added, “Seniors who have nowhere to go find new friendships and become involved in their community.”
Todays’ seniors are redefining the quality of life and healthy aging. They wish to maintain their independence and sense of purpose while having the opportunity to learn and play together for the benefit of all. The Gig Harbor Senior Center fulfills this requirement.
For those interested in helping the Gig Harbor Senior Center, which benefits the seniors in our community, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 253.514.6338 ext. 107.
About the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation
The Greater Gig Harbor Foundation (GGHF) is the only community foundation specifically working to meet the diverse needs of our greater Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula communities. The nonprofit organization has invested more than $7 million in grants, scholarships, land, equipment and volunteer labor over its 12-year history. Through the support of its donors, volunteers and fundholders, the Foundation has been able to address some of the community’s most pressing needs. For more information, visit GigHarborFoundation.org.