Pilot story by Marjorie Woodfin
Chetco Senior Center patrons reviewed the center's 29 years of serving the community of Brookings-Harbor, and the 25 years since incorporation as the Chetco Senior Center.
The walk down memory lane took place at a celebration March 6 at the center.
Formation of the center began around a table at the home of George and Theora Humphreys on Aug. 29, 1976. It started as the Brookings-Harbor Branch of the Curry County Senior Centers Inc. The group at the meeting discussing finding a home for a center included the Humphreys, Pauline May, George and Margaret Sappora, Clem Bridges, Berta Riley and Dolley Evreton.
What began around a dining room table shared by eight people with a vision has grown into an establishment with more than $1 million in assets. It provides many senior services, including daily lunches for members and friends, Meals on Wheels, Time Out for caregivers, income tax filing assistance, social activities and tours.
The speakers during the anniversary celebration Hazel Austin, Eldon Gossett, and Patty and Jim Burfield sat around the same table used at that first meeting, which was donated to the senior center by the Humphreys family.
Gossett said that, in the past years, discussions around the table about the senior center would bring tears of joy to George Humphreys, who was passionate about creating the center for Brookings.
By Feb. 17, 1977, the committee had found a home for the center in a building at the corner of Fern and Easy Streets, leased from the Brookings-Harbor School District.
Gossett said that was the beginning of volunteers working on wiring, sheetrock, a bathroom, a dining area and a wheelchair ramp, and donating pots, pans, utensils, silverware and dishes.
He then displayed the last remaining plate from those early days, which had been rescued from a box of discards by Dorothea Humphreys.
After a year, the school district canceled its contract with the senior center, leaving the 25 members again searching for a home. On June 15, 1978 the center moved into a building at Fern Street and Chetco Avenue, behind the old Shell station (now Old Fashioned Fantasy's).
"That was the time when George started the hobo stew lunches and Sunday breakfasts, Beth Aiken started the Wednesday soup and sandwiches, Fred Williford started the food pick-up program, and the men all helped with the woodpile program to provide wood for needy seniors," Gossett said.
In 1979, members of the committee decided it was time to disassociate from the Curry Senior Centers Inc. and become the Chetco Senior Center. On Feb. 27, 1980, the state granted the Chetco Senior Center Inc. a certificate of incorporation. The center had a bank account with $4,000.
Jim Burfield told the audience that the statement of purpose in that application for incorporation read, "It is the primary purpose of the corporation to provide services, functions and activities for senior citizens in the area."
"I have never read a more concise and unequivocal statement of purpose," Burfield said. "It is the reason that I have remained active and interested in the center for almost 16 years."
Patty Burfield continued the history, recounting a donation of $10,000 from Fred Williford "to get the ball rolling for a new center. In 1984 he donated another $10,000."
In 1983, the center's board of directors began to look for a new location with funds raised for the center reaching almost $70,000. Chuck and Gloria Carfrey gave The Coastal Nickle to the senior center that same year.
In 1984, Virginia Manley offered the seniors her little house adjacent to Stout Park that now houses the Manley Art Center, but the board said it was too small. Manley is quoted as saying she looked around the building and agreed.
With donations of money, time and energy from a number of seniors, the present property was purchased, and on June 17, 1987, an inspection tour and party was held to view the upstairs portion of what is now the current building.
At that event, Life Memberships were presented to Virginia Manley and Fred and Ella Williford for their donations to the building fund, and to Don and Charlotte Hintzman, original owners of the property.
On June 30, 1993, a refurbished and expanded senior center was dedicated. The improvements included a new ground floor, construction of upstairs offices, additional storage, new paint, and the first elevator in Brookings.
At the dedication, a plaque was presented to the Burfields in appreciation of their contribution to the expanded facility.
The center is located at 550 Chetco Lane, just up the hill behind Subway. For information about activities or to volunteer, call (541) 469-6822.