Since l976, the City of Chula Vista has been slashing the hours of the Norman Park Senior Center. According to Kay Bodge, a Norman Park volunteer, the center was open 78 hours per week in 1976; last month, the center was open 20 hours per week. Now the City has proposed cutting Friday hours, which will take the center down to 16 hours per week.
Bodge has advocated for the Friday hours at city-council meetings. She said in a recent interview, “I hate to see this very special place cut up into little pieces.” Organizers of many of the programs at the center (such as Friday-night square-dancing) have had to look for other locations because of the reduced hours.
The center has offered tai chi classes, creative writing, guitar, and computer classes. Bodge teaches gentle yoga and chair yoga, and the classes are free. Norman Center also provides blood-pressure clinics and groups for cancer survivors. Bodge says that people at the center will make calls to shut-ins each day to make sure they’re okay.
But the seniors are not standing by and watching their hours cut even more. The Senior Unity group plans to have a sit-in just prior to the February 1 city-council meeting. Participants will dress in black and stage their sit-in on the steps of the Chula Vista Police Department. The flier to organize the event advises participants to bring pillows to sit on. If the City relents, Senior Unity plans to turn their protest into praise.
Beyond that, Senior Unity is looking for ways to fund additional center hours. Volunteers stand in front of Henry’s grocery store soliciting donations, and they are planning to have a fundraiser on February 21 at Fuddruckers.
Pictured: Kay Bodge