Noe Valley Voice October 2005

Senior Center to Raise Lunch Money--at the Pritikin Mansion

By Heidi Anderson

Noe Valley resident Helen McKenna, 89, rarely misses her Tai Chi Chuan class. "I'd go every day if they had it that often," she says with a laugh.

McKenna is among the more than 4,000 Bay Area residents who make use of the 30th Street Senior Center each year. They can get lunch for a suggested donation of $1.50, enjoy an array of free classes--from quilting to Western line-dancing--and even have their hair done at the center's beauty salon.

The center, whose goal is to keep seniors independent, is run by On Lok Day Services, and shares the red brick building at 225 30th Street near Dolores Street. It's open six days a week and every holiday. Program director Valorie Villela says a majority of the center's seniors are low-income and do not have family nearby. "It's important that we be open on those days--most of our seniors say this is their second home."

The senior center, which turned 25 last year, gets just half of its budget from the city, and must rely heavily on fundraising from the community.

This year, former advertising mogul Bob Pritikin has offered his mansion at 47 Chenery Street as the venue for the senior center's biggest fundraiser, on Sunday, Oct. 23, from 1 to 4 p.m. Partygoers can get an up-close look at Pritikin's palatial home while bidding on an array of prizes at a silent auction and raffle.

Among the prizes and auction items are gift certificates from local businesses such as Common Scents, Firefly, Swatdee, and Incanto Restaurant. Lucky donors may also win San Francisco Symphony, Giants, and airline tickets.

Denise Perrier and her band will perform live jazz, and attendees will be served a barbecue lunch and drinks.

Admission is $75 per person in advance ($50 for seniors) and $100 at the door. Raffle tickets will be $2 each.

The Friends of 30th Street Senior Center, a group that is helping to organize the event, hopes to raise $20,000. "The party will support the terrific things that are being done for and with seniors at this wonderful place," says Friends of 30th Street member Vicki Rosen.

"It's a great party," agrees Dave Baker, of On Lok. "It's a good cause, it's a good way to support your neighbors--we're all going to be old someday."

To find out about advance ticket sales, call Baker at 292-8732, or stop by the 30th Street Senior Center booth at the Noe Valley Harvest Fair Oct. 22.