Mailbag: Seniors need more than brick and mortar

September 15, 2010

While there is strong pressure from the developers on the Huntington Beach City Council to build a new senior center far from the beach, the real question is whether Huntington Beach's seniors are adequately served by the present center. The answer to this question, while no, results not from an inadequate facility but from inadequate services, a lack that will not be remedied by throwing money into developers' and politicians' hands.

The existing center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and a half-day on Saturday, and is closed on Sundays. These are hours I remember well from when I was employed full time. But I am not employed and see little distinction among the days of the week. I wake at 6 a.m. (actually at several times during the night, when I sometimes go for walks) and am in bed at 9 (let's not forget my afternoon nap). These hours are not uncommon for those past a certain age. Some of my friends babysit their grandchildren during the day when the parents are at work. They'd like a place they could hang out after working hours.


I'd like a place I could go and spend time when the library is closed. A place out of the weather where I could chat with acquaintances and perhaps access the Internet.

The Senior Center's computer room has been closed for more than a year, so it's Starbucks or nothing (for those fortunate enough to own laptops). Organized functions at the center are clustered on certain days and at certain times of the day. The rest of the time, the center remains empty, uninviting.

But the center provides other services, doesn't it? Suppose I sprain my ankle early in the day; by late afternoon, I break down and call the doctor and am given an appointment for the next afternoon. I'll need a ride; good thing the center has a bus service. I'll phone them. What is their telephone number? It's not listed under Huntington Beach Senior Center in the white pages, nor is it in the green pages under Huntington Beach. That's because the center is named after the benefactors who contributed to its construction (I think). If only I knew their name. If only the center had purchased multiple listings in the telephone book.

I phone a friend who phones a friend who phones a friend. I have the phone number. "Can I get a ride to the doctor tomorrow?" No, I have to phone a week in advance to arrange for a lift. How convenient — for them.

Let's spend the money for senior services, not buildings.

Phillip Good

Huntington Beach

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