New ‘home’ needed for Gig Harbor seniors group

Gig Harbor’s senior center has lost the roof over its head and is looking for a new one.

For the past 10 years, the Senior Club, as it’s called, occupied part of the Jim and Carolyn Milgard Family HOPE Center. But the Peninsula School District, through a bond measure that voters approved in February, enabled the district to buy the building for $12.8 and convert it into an elementary school that will open this fall. The Boys and Girls Club, which also occupied the building previously, will continue to use part of it for some of its activities, but there’s no room for the senior center.

“We’re losing a lot if we can’t find a new home,” said Betty Lillienthal, one of the leaders of an effort to prevent that.

As the end of May approached, a church had offered some temporary space but not long-term, and the Senior Club was going to be homeless by June 20. Senior center advocates are working with the city, Pierce County, PenMet Parks District, and other civic groups, as well as individuals, to come up with a new location.

Mayor Kit Kuhn, in a report to citizens in March, said he and the City Council want “to make sure that (the seniors’) needs are met.”

The club has been used to having exercise rooms, a large flat-screen TV with DVD and CD players for exercise videos and WII games, space for bingo and card games, billiards, pickleball, arts and crafts, and classes about computers and health-related topics. The center also has hosted footcare clinics and served as a Catholic Community Services mealsite for hot lunches.

The Senior Club, with members paying annual fees to join, was formed in October 2009 in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club’s grand opening of the Milgard building.

Lillienthal described the senior center as a home away from home for its 120 seniors to gather and socialize.

“This is so hard, not knowing what’s going to be on the table,” she said in May, but she added that “we hope to have some big news” by the end the month.