We retired and moved away. A year and a half later we returned.
In the relatively short time we were gone a major change took place in downtown Danville. There stood a rebuilt veterans’ building combined with a new senior center. From the corner of Hartz and Prospect I stared at the building hard and long. Tears formed in my eyes. This was a project that was near and dear to my heart for I had been part of its creation.
Go back a dozen years or so when I was the senior sneaker coordinator for the town of Danville and planned weekly trips. The seniors met in parking lots and at parks, Bart stations and bus stops. There was no place for us to gather.
Fast forward a few years. No longer the coordinator, I stepped down to pursue my business interests. Nonetheless I helped organize a group of seniors to attend town council where they would make their demands known. Approximately 50 of us attended and voiced our wants. In numbers we were strong. We met with officials from the town to further discuss these issues.
The town proposed that they do a professional survey to accurately assess the needs of seniors. A company from San Diego was hired to gather the data. When the information was compiled the activity that seniors wanted to do most was - LUNCH. They wanted a place to have a communal lunch.
And yes, they wanted their own building, activities and more.
The town listened and they took action. They bought the Veteran’s Building from the county, a structure that was in dire need of renovation, and promised to always provide a place for veterans. The town pledged millions of dollars to rebuild the historic property. Seniors and veterans sat through many sessions of planning and design. We looked at the proposals from every perspective.
Once the architectural company presented the final design to the town council and the plans were accepted, bids went out to builders. Somewhere along the line the majestic redwoods that graced Prospect and Hartz were cut down and carted off. Some of us fought to save them but to no avail.
And when my personal plans took me away, I felt the pieces were in place.
Back in the Bay area I now gazed with pride at the rebuilt building and the words senior center over the doors. Several young trees were spreading their branches. The flagstaff and memorial were in place. The building that I had only seen in blueprints and renderings loomed large but welcoming. It was a blending of the old and the new and it worked. I wiped the tears away and walked across the street and went in.