Strategic Planning

Senior Center launches five-year strategic planning project

History of Sebastopol Area Senior Center

The City of Sebastopol either inherited or received a gift of the property now occupied by the Senior Center at 167 N. High Street. I have not seen a copy of the deed but I have been told by a former City Manager that the conveying document provides that . the property can only be used as a Senior Center. Although the present corporation now known as the Sebastopol Area Senior Center raised the money and paid for the new building on the property, it is in fact owned by the City of Sebastopol. The Senior Center has a 20 year lease on the property with specified rent of $1 per year.

The Senior Center was incorporated on August 13, 1969 under the name of THE BURBANK ACTIVITY CENTER. There were 10 incorporators who signed the original Articles, B.G. GRIFFITH, LLOYD M. ALLEN, JOHN R. CRUMP, BILLIE JOHNSON, AGNES B. GILMAN, ENA D. WALTON, JOHN H. PORTER, WARREN RANDALL, 0. WALTER WALTON and CLYDE ADAMS. The IRS granted the new organization an IRC 501(c)(3) exemption as a charitable organization on November 24, 1969. Research determined that the charitable exemption was suspended two years later for not filing tax returns. When the fund raising started to raise money for the new building project a member of the board contacted the IRS and arranged to have the suspension lifted so that donors could receive a tax deduction for their donations. It is still valid.

The Senior Center has always been at 167 N. High Street, which was an approximately 100 year old former residence. This was the first senior center in Sonoma County, and the original Articles of Incorporation state that the purpose of the organization is "to engage in activities which will promote the general welfare of the elderly residents of the County.of Sonoma and neighboring Counties..." so at that time the focus was not limited to the citizens of the Sebastopol, but was focused countywide and beyond.

For the first few years the Senior Center was run primarily as a social and recreational center for seniors, sponsoring numerous dances, dinners, trips, games of all kinds, and other social activities of interest to the seniors in the community at that time. Later they sponsored speakers and lecturers on various subjects of interest. The Center was run completely by volunteers for these first few years. This was all under the name of Burbank Activity Center.

In 1972, the organization contracted with the Sonoma County Council on Aging to provide Day Services at the Center. The "day services" was also called the "frail elderly program. In about 1995, the Council on Aging was experiencing difficulties in financing the Day Service operations of the Center, so a Finance Committee was formed locally to assist the COA with funding of the Center's activities. During this process, the Committee decided to re-activate the previous corporation which had been inactive, and members of the COA Finance Committee became the new board of directors of The Burbank Activity Center. In 1997 the board of BAC decided to undertake an extensive remodeling and expansion project of the building that was being used by the Center at 167 N. High Street, where all of the activities of the Center have been held since the first organization of BAC back in 1969. Fundraising activities for purposes of remodeling and expanding the building were undertaken by the Board of Directors and an architect and engineers were hired to prepare plans for the project.

A short time later, the Legacy store (a fabric and crafts resale shop) was started. Besides the need for money, the impetus for the start of the store came as a result of a gift of an extensive crafts inventory that came from a man in Burlingame whose wife had just died. The decedent was a very active craftsperson and had accumulated a house full of materials and supplies. A resale shop was set up to sell this donated merchandise and the shop now known as the Legacy was born. That resale shop has continually operated and has grown since that time and still operates in the Southpoint Shopping Center across the parking lot from McDonald's Restaurant. All of the profits from that shop go to the Senior Center as a part of and to support their annual budget.
In March of 1999 the BAC board took over the day to day operations of the Senior Center but also continued to contract with COA for the day services (frail elderly program) which have continued to be held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The other programs for more active seniors have been expanded considerably so that there is now a full range of activities for seniors of all ages and of varying capabilities.

The first paid Executive Director of BAC, Beverly Martin, was hired in June of 1999. She retired in March of 2000 at which time Jan Silva was hired as Executive Director. Jan resigned and moved to Oregon in November of 2002 and Wendy Blight was hired to replace her as Executive Director. Wendy later also resigned and moved to Washington in late 2004. The present Executive Director, Terry Kelley, was hired to replace Wendy in December 2004, and is still the full time executive director.

The actual construction on the remodeling and expansion of the Senior Center building commenced in November of 2001 and was completed in January 2003. It was necessary to relocate the activities and programs of the Center during construction, so arrangements were made with the Sebastopol Grange to move the senior center activities to their building, out on Highway !2, during construction. The Center moved into the new building in January of 2003. The total cost of construction was $1.4 million, most of which was raised out of the community, along with some federal and state grants, except for a $10,000 contribution by the City of Sebastopol, and a $360,000 loan from Exchange Bank. The Exchange Bank loan was paid off with a balance of $54,000 in October, 2011 through private financing. That private loan has now been paid off and there are no encumbrances on the building or property.

In February, 2003, the Articles of Incorporation of the Burbank Activity Center were amended to officially change the name to The Sebastopol Area Senior Center and the Center is now operated under that name.

The City of Sebastopol does not have the resources to help extensively with the operation of the Center. Last fiscal year the City contributed only $2000 toward an operating budget of over $350,000. This is the only Senior Center in the County that does not receive substantial financial assistance from its City. It is therefore necessary that the board of directors find other sources of income to operate the Center, primarily donations from the local community.
The programs and activities at the Senior Center have been expanded tremendously over the past 10 years and ongoing efforts are being made to continually bring in new ideas and programs that would be participated in by the members of the community.


Results of first event

The Sebastopol Area Senior Center launched the development of its five-year strategic plan with a Community Forum held on October 28 to gather input from the community.

Approximately 36 people attended the event. This was just the first step for this project.

Following are the results from the Community Forum.

Notes from Flip Charts

  1. Food

    1. Nutritional Education

    2. Nutrition *

    3. Cal Fresh

    4. CERES

    5. Meal delivery service

      1. Blue apron

      2. Meals on wheels

    6. Community Garden

    7. Council on Aging

    8. Meal accessibility

    9. Transportation

    10. Community Meals

    11. Food delivery / Safeway


  1. Finances

    1. Global finances

    2. Social Security

    3. Taxes

    4. Cost of Living/budgeting

    5. Discounts for seniors

    6. Financial planning

    7. Reverse mortgages


  1. Education

    1. Health

    2. Mental *

    3. Sources for options

      1. VA

      2. Housing / Levels of care

    4. Living with chronic illness

      1. Support

      2. Education


  1. Elder Abuse

    1. Financial *

    2. Prevention

    3. Emotional *

    4. Reporting *


  1. Ageism

    1. Accommodating disabilities

    2. Ageism in healthcare

    3. Understanding what is happening as you age


  1. Care /Case Management

    1. Advocacy

    2. Placement planning


  1. Legal Issues

    1. Estate planning

    2. Advance directive

    3. Landlord/tenant issues

    4. Senior bill of rights

    5. Property issues

    6. Taxes


  1. Healthcare

    1. Mental Health

    2. Medical care planning

    3. Insurance

    4. In-home care

    5. Understanding what is available

    6. Isolation *****


  1. Senior Center Facility

    1. Parking **

    2. Clean carpets

    3. Better marketing

      1. Getting info out to members

    4. More fundraising

    5. Resource book **

    6. Finley Senior center

    7. Larger facilities **


  1. Senior Accessibility

    1. Appropriate time for meetings

    2. Sidewalk improvements  **


  1. Aging In Place

    1. Wellness Checks  ***

    2. Food access

    3. Yard/home maintenance

    4. Appropriate home choice

      1. Downsizing

    5. Safety

      1. Handrails

        1. Senior living needs

    6. Neighborhood network  **

    7. Technology / i.e. Nextdoor

    8. Beacon Hill Village Model


  1. Technology

    1. Smart consumer  *

    2. Computer education & training  *

    3. Senior friendly phones

    4. Health issues

      1. Electro sensitivity

    5. Skype/facetime

    6. Help with new technology  *


  1. End of Life Planning

    1. Advance directive

    2. Respite care

    3. Code status

    4. Assisted suicide

    5. Funeral planning

    6. Death café

    7. Spiritual resources

    8. Family discussion support


  1. Activities

    1. Exercise / Movement  *

    2. Creative arts  *

    3. Crafts  *

    4. Isolation & connectivity  *

    5. Education  *

      1. JC

      2. Classes

      3. Movies

      4. Plays

      5. Books

      6. Speed dating

    6. Music  **

    7. Dances

    8. Senior / Junior partnerships


  1. Transportation

    1. Public transit

      1. Schedule

        1. Rural

        2. City

    2. Ride share / board for posting

    3. Uber / Lyft **

    4. Drivers licenses

    5. Expand volunteers  *


  1. Community Resources

    1. Collaboration with other groups  **

    2. Isolation

    3. Networking

    4. Rebuilding together

    5. Senior discounts

    6. Intergeneration exchanges  *


  1. Caregivers

    1. Accessible list of caregivers  **

    2. Screening of caregivers  *

    3. Licensing/training

    4. Respite care & training by professionals

    5. Support for caregivers


  1. Housing

    1. Affordable / section 8  ***

      1. Safe

      2. Rural

    2. Cost of living

    3. Shared housing

    4. Walkable housing  *

    5. Multi generational housing

    6. Home repair/maintenance

    7. Smaller homes info


  1. Disaster Preparedness

    1. Physical safety *

    2. Facility / environmental safety

      1. Bookcases

      2. TVs

    3. Know your neighbors

    4. Emergency contacts  *

    5. CERT

    6. First aid

    7. Energy alternatives

      1. Personal

      2. Home

      3. Support