By Vicki McCulloughin
In August, the Blaine Senior Center will celebrate its 51st anniversary, so for the next five months, Young at Heart will share the story of how it began. This piece is part one of a five-part series written by the late Evelyn Yarbrough for the Blaine Senior Center:
I think most beginnings can be compared to raising a garden. It all begins when nothing seems to be growing. You have a vision of fruit and flowers and what you would like your garden to be.
Gradually, the dream becomes a plan and you start having questions. What do we need? Where will we get it? What can we do? So you carefully select your seeds, plant them in the best earth available and when they begin to germinate you work like heck till harvest.
I am not sure who had the first dream of building a community center. The Boys and Girls Club had one leader and a small group of children who met in an upstairs class room on loan from the school district. The things they could do in this space were very limited and sometimes the children felt like they were just marking time with an unofficial baby sitter. Intent on finding more space for projects, programs and play, community leaders began spreading the word.
The original Blaine Senior Center was a nice little building designed for a city that would not grow, but always stay the same. But things started to change; more people were living longer and a growing number of seniors were anxious to have more activities, classes and social interaction. As such, some seniors began to express a need for larger quarters. At the time, Blaine City Council chambers were the only available place to host public meetings and as more people began to take an interest in city government, it seemed to be inadequate in size.
Overcrowding, bad acoustics and uncomfortable seats made it a less than ideal place for large public gatherings, so the citizens of Blaine began to air the need for a community center, a place where they could even introduce out of town and important speakers with pride.
After a time, everyone came together and finally someone said:
“What we need is a community building that will take care of our problems.”