The economic recession hit many Bay Area cities hard, including the city of Newark in southern Alameda County. In January 2010, dozens of employees were laid off or lost hours, and all but the most essential city services were cut. One of the casualties of Newark’s budget crunch was its decades-old senior center.
Then, the good news came. Last July, the Newark Senior Center reopened, and the activities are in full swing. Earlier this week, KALW’s Hana Baba swung by the Center on a warm morning, just in time to catch a game of bocce ball on the outside lawn with Recreational Coordinator Kelly Hess, and seniors Noelle Ochs, Vivian Soriano, Juanita Betts, and Betty Francis.
FRANCIS: I take bridge lessons, I play canasta, cards, circle of friends.. Everybody was just so happy to come back. That the city thought enough of the seniors to get the money and reopen - it was really big for us. I’ve retired and I’ve lost my husband a few years ago, and so it gives my children a good feeling, too, that I have someplace to go that’s safe and to be able to do things and keep living!
Listen to the full interview above. Hear the back story about the Newark Senior Center here.