Barbara Hamilton

Someone asked, what is a senior? I’d say it’s someone who finds the doors heavier to open and curbs higher, can no longer drive or shouldn’t, can shop for necessities but often needs help, can do his or her own wash but finds it hard to make the bed and may not have money for help.

But, determined seniors can accomplish a lot — like starting Meals on Wheels and Dial-a-Ride and paying (according to a CPA document) more than $1 million to help found a center that would serve all seniors.

Rush Limbaugh said one day, “If you don’t like what’s happening speak up or write a letter.”

There is more to all of this than the public knows or remembers. Lisa Bertalan, an elder abuse attorney, said, “They turned ownership of their new home over to Bend Park & Recreation in exchange for their use of the facility and access to all seniors into the future.”

There was a Bend City Council meeting on March 17, 1999, when Ron Garzini was city manager, and the following appears in the Minutes under Background:

“The Bend-area seniors have been working toward the development of the new Senior Center within Larkspur Park on Reed Market Road near 15th Street.”

The park district owned the land and the city was heavily involved in the development. It was to be turned over to Bend Park & Recreation to manage.

There was to be participation with others “so that a wide variety of quality services can be offered” — this from a letter to United Senior Citizens of Bend (USCB) president, Nick Norton, written on Nov. 4, 1998, from Carrie Whitaker, executive director of Bend Metro Park and Recreation District at that time.

Reading through a number of pages of the past documents it appears the original purpose has been lost.

What a blessing it would have been to all Bend seniors for the USCB and Bend Park & Recreation to have worked together; USCB helping those on limited income and mobility and the park district helping those who are more financially and physically able.

When was it decided USCB was no longer wanted? They didn’t abandon their programs or leave to take their programs and new ideas elsewhere. They had a very small office and were told they could move into the library they had established where there was no privacy. Raising enough money to pay for nearly half of the center, they should have had a large part of it for their own and others’ programs.

USCB has always used the name Bend Senior Center. Now people say do you mean the one on Fifth or the one on Reed Market? During the last 13 years, USCB has lost a number of its members. Is this a waiting game until the rest of us are gone?

Anyone responsible in even a small way should be ashamed of themselves. The members of USCB were told in a letter regarding building of the Senior Center that the “seniors’ responsibility is to raise money, raise money, and raise more money.”

They fulfilled that responsibility.

I don’t mean this to be mean-spirited, but this has taken a heavy toll on those who worked so hard to make seniors’ dreams come true. Over the years, since 1972, I have participated in many Bend Park &Recreation District programs and have been grateful for them.

We need both organizations. Bend is growing and so should we.