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Emeryville Senior Center hosts grand reopening after completion of two million dollar renovation

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Active seniors happily returned to the Emeryville Senior Center after the recent completion of the city’s yearlong renovation project. The 1930s Art Deco Veterans Memorial building resumed its place as a hub for the area’s Senior community. Adult Services Manager Brad Helfenberger MC’d the ribbon cutting ceremony on July 8th that was captured by ETV. “I hope you’re able to enjoy the Senior Center for years to come!” he added. The two-million dollar renovation included a litany of structural and cosmetic updates.

Image: Nick Sebastian, WorldWide Communications).

Mayor Dianne Martinez, who was tasked with cutting the ribbon to anoint the refurbished center, referred to the building as “the most beautiful in The Triangle Neighborhood … I think in all of Emeryville. The EUSD has been temporarily housing the center over the past year of renovation at Ralph Hawley Middle School. Center on Aging Chair Joyce Jacobson reiterated the city’s support and funding for Seniors noting that even during recent times when adjacent cities have cut back on services for seniors, “We kept going!”

Image: Nick Sebastian, WorldWide Communications).

Greener, seismically safer and more accessible

Included in the yearlong renovation were seismic upgrades, improved accessibility and modern energy efficiency enhancements. The addition of rooftop solar panels is expected to cut the center’s electricity consumption by 50% according to Helfenberger. The accessibility upgrades include a new entrance wheelchair ramp and ADA compliant access to the first floor restroom. The cosmetic updates included new windows, a new ceiling, polished grates and a fresh coat of paint in a soft, soothing, vintage color scheme of forest green and vanilla. The building remains bright and airy and the main windows of the hall’s entrance added remotely operated blinds to help keep the center cool during the day.

New café opening in the historic bar

Also included as part of the restoration will be a new café in the historic bar portion of the center that once served vets. The vintage wooden bar that runs the length of the long atmospheric room will be refinished and include new floors and reupholstered booths. The Cafe is targeting opening in September.

The center also operates a commercial kitchen serving doughnuts and coffee every morning. The popular ice-cream and movie social will resume their regular fourth Friday of the month schedule in August.

Alameda County constructed the building in 1930 for VFW Industrial Post 1010 at a cost of $90,000 and Emeryville transitioned the building into a Senior Center in 1977 (Photo: Emeryville Historical Society).

Plenty of Activities including Senior Dating

The Senior Center offers a variety of services, activities & trips for older adults ages 50 and over. Center events coordinator Kim Burrowes noted that Emeryville’s Senior Center is much more active than neighboring centers and Seniors come from all over the area to our Senior Center. One of the draws is a lengthily list of trips, daily excursions and even international travel. Burrowes noted examples including an upcoming three-day bus trip to Laguna Beach and Catalina Island, a bus trip to Muir Woods and a drive to Korbel Winery among many others.


Opportunities for Senior learning include things like Guitar classes which some studies have shown may help stave off dementia. The small, intimate lessons involve playing chords to folk music and are held in the billiards room on Tuesdays at 11:00 a.m. Physical activities range from weight-training to the popular Zumba class and are held in the main hall which includes a full size theater stage. One member who lives in Emeryville says she finds the weight training class makes a difference and she feels great. She often stays for the Zumba class afterward. “I like how well seniors are treated in Emeryville” she also noted.

Seniors participating in the popular weekly Zumba Class

Burrowes also wants to address the need for Senior companionship and is considering a form of Speed Dating that she became aware of through the 2015 documentary film The Age of Love. Emeryville’s Senior Center membership consists of eighty percent women so Burrowes will try to network with other centers to equalize the dating pool. Although still awaiting confirmation, Burrowes is hoping to screen the film at the monthly Friday Night Club which is held from 6 to 8 p.m.

Membership to the center is just $10 a year for Emeryville residents ($20 for Non-residents). Seniors interested in Senior Center Activities can subscribe to their newsletter “The Link” by calling (510) 596-3730 or emailing Burrowes at

The mission of the Senior Center is to provide a comprehensive array of activities and services that promote healthy aging and contribute to the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of older adults in our community. More information about the center can be found online on the City’s Website.


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Cindy Warner

lives in Emeryville after finding a Bentley 38 sailboat at Emery Cove in 2014. She learned to sail at Cal Sailing and covered the America's Cup in SF. She grew up in the East Bay and finds the shoreline home. She has written on San Francisco Arts & Culture since January 2009, using her bicycle and public transportation to cover stories all over the SF Bay Area.

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