Carl Gipson Center reopening keeps seniors at forefront
City of Everett photo
The Carl Gipson Center as seen in a city photo taken on an unknown date.
EVERETT — When it reopens Jan. 3, the city’s senior center on Lombard Avenue will retain all of the old favorites: The pingpong tables, the coffee bar, the daily lunches.
But it will have a shorter name and a broader focus.
It’s being renamed the Carl Gipson Center. They’ve dropped “senior” from the building’s name. Its operators emphasize they haven’t chopped seniors out.
Instead, the plan is to expand how the building is used: Senior member hours perhaps during the morning and afternoon, and, eventually, community events in the center at night, described the center’s new director Cory Armstrong-Hoss.
The center is being operated under a 14-year private-public lease by the Volunteers of America Western Washington.
The immediate focus is inviting back senior members, Armstrong-Hoss said.
The membership fee will be $25. It includes fitness classes and parking passes. The cost can be waived for low-income members.
Entering the center requires a proof of vaccination or a religious exemption.
Public programs could be ceramics, music classes, art classes, or other things to do in the center. These won’t start until many months into the New Year.
Square on the target is attracting Baby Boomers, who today are between ages 75 and 57, to the Carl Gipson Center. Stigma against going to a “senior center” among the generation once taught to trust nobody over 30 is one factor why “senior” was dropped from the name, said Armstrong-Hoss, who happens to be 42. The other reason is to broaden the center’s appeal.
Seniors are “our first priority” for the center, said Everett’s parks and facilities director Bob Leonard.
Overall, operations are not changing for the center, Leonard said. Almost everything stayed in the building, assistant parks director Kimberly Moore said.
The center closed in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When it reopens, “we want to make sure it is fully utilized,” Leonard said.
One idea is to have people of multiple generations come play and mingle. Your table tennis opponent might just be an afterschool teen.
Studies show it is a healthful and emotionally satisfying for older people and younger people to interact, Armstrong-Hoss said.
“If done intentionally, we can serve those populations,” Armstrong-Hoss said.
Later in the year, groups might come in the evenings for events such as arts classes, social club meetings or similar.
The center has numerous rooms inside, with the largest being the Cascade View great ballroom, which pre-pandemic was the venue for various civic events.
The city used to run the center itself. It halted doing so and laid off the center’s staff as one of the $3.6 million worth of emergency budget cutbacks done in April 2020.
Later, the city began seeking private organizations to partner with to help reopen some of the facilities and spaces which the city’s current budget wouldn’t allow. A deal with VOA was signed by the City Council in August.
The city believes the VOA could enhance services for seniors, because the nonprofit can connect people to its network of other resources. The VOA runs the Everett Food Bank and also manages the 2-1-1 help hot line.
Before being designated the center’s director by VOAWW, a few years ago Armstrong-Hoss managed operations at the Mukilteo Family Y and was the director of the Casino Road Community Center managed under the YMCA.
The center was renamed in 2007 for Carl Gipson, a longtime City Council member.
Holiday events Dec. 18-19
at the Carl Gipson Center
In the Carl Gipson Center’s north courtyard, there will be a free holiday event Saturday, Dec. 18 and Sunday, Dec. 19 from 2 to 8 p.m. The time between 2 to 5 p.m. is reserved for seniors age 50-and-up and their families. The event will feature music, hot cocoa, coffee and Santa. Masks will be required.
The center’s address is 3025 Lombard Ave.
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