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SF's 30th Street Senior Center turns 40

by Samantha Laurey

Hadley Hall has been involved with the 30th Street Senior Center from the beginning. Photo: Samantha Laurey
Hadley Hall has been involved with the 30th Street Senior Center from the beginning. Photo: Samantha Laurey  

A member of the LGBT community who has long advocated for seniors, and is now one himself, is helping celebrate the 30th Street Senior Center's 40th anniversary.

The San Francisco center opened in 1979. In 1995, it became part of On Lok's family of senior services.

According to a recent On Lok newsletter article, "One day 40 years ago, groups of enterprising seniors in search of a gathering place went to see Hadley Hall, executive director of San Francisco Home Health Service."

"They had been meeting in churches, in garages, in storefronts, and they were looking for an opportunity to create community and provide for themselves," Hall said in the article.

The article noted that one group was led by Graciela Cashion, an outspoken Nicaraguan immigrant on a mission to rally the community around the idea of a senior center; another by Arturo Cardenas; and a third by Ray Moreno, a quiet and thoughtful former Teamster who helped to organize the seniors as he would a union group.

Through his role at SFHHS, Hall had also been thinking about creating a multi-purpose senior center in the former psychiatric hospital at 225 30th Street that the agency had acquired.

Hall, a gay man who joined SFHHS in the 1950s, explained in a recent interview that the agency had people assist elders in their homes by helping clean and driving them to appointments, among other tasks. At the time, however, it did not provide any health care services.

"The 30th Street Senior Center saves Medicare and Medi-Cal in health care spending, with fewer ambulance rides, ER and doctor visits, fewer hospital stays, fewer medications, and a significant reduction in health emergencies," Hall said.

Hall said that he had become colleagues with On Lok founder Marie-Louise Ansak through their advocacy of senior health care and social services. Between Hall and Ansak, they had worked together to grow the possibilities of improving care for elders, he said.

On Lok serves as the parent agency for a group of nonprofit organizations whose collective mission is to pursue quality of life and quality of care for older adults and their families, its website notes. That includes the 30th Street Senior Center.

"For the last four decades, 30th Street Senior Center has helped seniors live full, independent lives for as long as possible," Executive Director of On Lok Day Services John Blazek wrote in an email. "From the popular Mission Nutrition meals program to the many integrated health and social services offered, we're proud of the opportunity we have to nourish souls and minds with companionship and human interaction."

Hall continues to attend the 30th Street Senior Center and advocates for all seniors to have health care, social services, and leisure activities. He wants all seniors to have a comfortable life that does not bind them to a bed.

According to its website, the center offers an Always Active program, general exercise and fitness programs, and a midday meal Monday through Saturday, with seatings at noon and 1 p.m., for eligible seniors. It offers home-delivered meals for those who qualify.

"My motivation for continuing my work with 30th Street and On Lok is that I am still alive and nothing is perfect yet and I can help make it so," said Hall.

A benefit anniversary dinner set for Friday is sold out.

To inquire about programs at the 30th Street Senior Center, visit http://www.30thstreetseniorcenter.org/

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