ECHO PARK - Los Angeles City, County, and School District officials on Thursday dedicated a new facility that provides health education, nutritious meals, social services, activities, and provide transportation to seniors in the City of Angels.
The idea for a senior center in Echo Park began more than 10 years ago when the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was gearing up to build a school on Mohawk Street in Echo Park. The site became highly controversial and despite considerable community opposition, a school was built at the location and eventually became what is now the Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy.
“I am thrilled to finally open the Echo Park Senior Center,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. “Our seniors deserve a safe, high quality facility where they can gather for social interaction and a healthy meal. I am proud to dedicate this new center in their honor, and I am certain it will be put to good use.”
"Our seniors deserve our respect, gratitude and the best care available," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "The Echo Park Senior Center will provide the services they need to help them to live their lives to the fullest, and create new opportunities in their own community."
As part of the negotiations for community benefits with LAUSD, the City received a commitment for a community center, complete with a full size cook’s kitchen. As soon as the Councilmember took office, he resurrected this effort and identified funding to establish a fully operational senior center.
“I am proud that we now have a fully operational senior center in Echo Park,” said County Supervisor Hilda Solis. “This idea was ten years in the making and is now fully realized thanks to the collaborative leadership of city, county, and community advocates. Housed in the Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy, this center will not only provide traditional senior programs, but it will also enable our seniors to connect with the young students who will co-inhabit this space.”
“This innovative partnership between L.A. Unified and City of Los Angeles has resulted in a win-win. Our beautiful school, Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy, opened five years ago providing great resources for our students and relieving overcrowding from the density of the Echo Park community,” said L.A. Unified Superintendent Michelle King. “Now, today, a senior center opens for the grandparents and great grandparents of the students and other elderly participants to enjoy.”
The Echo Park Senior Center is a collaboration between the Council Office,Laura Trejo and Marco Perez from the City’s Department of Aging, St Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS), the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and LAUSD school board members Ref Rodriguez and Bennett Keyser (retired).
"I am so happy to see the Echo Park Senior Center open,” said Laura Trejo, general manager of the Department of Aging. “The new center will bring needed services to community and provide new opportunities for creative collaborations. The Department of Aging is grateful to Councilmember O'Farrell and his staff for their dedication to making the Echo Park Senior Center a reality."
“This senior center is exactly what it looks like when community partners work in collaboration,” said LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez. “ My hope is that the members of this center can continue this partnership and work with the students from Camino Nuevo to develop programs that will benefit each other.”
“This is an exciting opportunity for SBSS and the older adults we serve,” said St Barnabas President & CEO, Rigo J. Saborio. “We are honored to have been selected to manage the new Echo Park Senior Center and look forward to sharing our mission, vision and innovative programs with the residents of Echo Park. With the support of the City and all the collaborating partners, this new site will be a lively hub for Echo Park’s older adult community where they can socialize with peers, receive life-enhancing services and age in the community with dignity and respect.”
“There is a great deal of gratitude from all of us here, and for all of those who are in the community, who made this a wonderful and welcoming space that Echo Park seniors can call home,” said Ida Talalla, a local senior who advocated for the facility. “We now have a home because of the collaboration, dedication, and cooperation of those taking a lead, who made sure that despite interruptions, this would become a key base for seniors of information, programs, and inspiration.”
The Echo Park Senior Center is open from 8am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. Those interested in hearing about the services at the new center can call 213-413-0508.