Michael's Message - 50 Years in Sequim - History of our Center
Imagine a high school senior with long hair and a tie-dyed T-shirt riding his skateboard down Washington Street in May 1971 when our organization was started, That carefree teenager is now 67 years old! A “senior center” was probably the farthest thing from his 17-year-old mind, and yet today he can come enjoy our Center because folks in his community built the organization we have today. This month, I’m pulling together several old articles I have found in the “archives” and scrapbooks to help us all being to appreciate those who came before us.
It was May 27, 1971 when an intrepid group of pioneers signed the articles of incorporation of the SENIOR CITIZENS CENTER OF SEQUIM, officially starting what we now call SHIPLEY CENTER. The center began life in the basement of the old Presbyterian Church. Many of its first members came from “The Leisure Hours Club” strted in the 1950’s in Sequim. The first board included English teacher and poet Hart Smith as president, Cecil Miller as Secretary/Treasurer, and board directors Everett Lindaas, Rev. Floyd Terrence, Earl Morrell and Rhea Sherman. The first director was Bill Cooper. After the first year the center moved to its 2nd location, the old “Town Hall” east of the old Fire Station on Cedar Street. (This building served later as the public works department, and now sits at 170 W Bell St.)
The City of Sequim later allowed use of the wood framed “Community Center”, formerly the Adventist Church, on the corner of 2nd and Cedar where today’s Transit Center is. This third home for the center was rent free, but the seniors needed to raise a bit of money to pay utilities each month. Sharing the building with the City of Sequim meant senior activities had to end by 4pm each day. The building had one main room for activities and one room for a pool table, plus a small office.
Over time, the membership, numbering about 100, decided to remodel and added a kitchen, two bathrooms, and made additional improvements. The labor was provided by the men and women of the Senior Center, all volunteers working together with much of the building material donated by Sequim merchants.
Bingo, cards, checkers, chess and other games were played, and there was a lot of singing and socializing. After a number of years the need for more space for a growing membership and increased activities became obvious. To make donations tax deductible, the Center obtained its official 501c3 nonprofit status as “Sequim Senior Task Force” from the IRS in 1987. The group was dreaming of a bigger building and donors wanted to be able to deduct their gifts to the cause.
In 1989, director George Woodriff was hired and the board asked him to research moving the Center to a “home of its own” by either buying or building one. Fundraisers were held including pancake breakfasts, raffles, rummage sales, car washes and “most any other kind of fundraiser” that could be thought of to give Sequim a new and larger Center.
There were several “false starts”. One at least three occasions the Center was offered various land donations from generous people in the community. For one reason or another each site had to be turned down or returned to the donor due to logical problems or deadlines for construction that could not be met.
Next time we will look at how our current property at 921 E. Hammond became our organization’s 4th and current home, and more!