About Us

About Us

CC light - Copy (2)

Thousands of people use the Red Bluff Community/Senior Center each year, but many may not know that without the persistence of Goldie Walston, it might not be here. Although she was well into her seventies, she organized the group to raise money for a center. 

In the 1970s the city applied for a federal grant for a center, but it was denied. The city had an architect draw up schematics and cost estimates, which were $3 million. Then the city put it up for a vote ? a non-binding item asking whether voters would support financing a center. Although 42 percent agreed on the need, only 39 percent supported financing. The proposal went into limbo. That's when Goldie stepped in. As a woman who had worked hard all her life, she knew that without action, wishes were not likely to materialize. She asked the city manager, Dennis Fischer, how much money would be needed to show community support to get outside funding. He suggested $20,000. In August 1983 she and a group of her friends set out decorated coffee cans for donations. One of the first was put in Mike Folino's Sweet Shoppe. Rachel Walton drove Goldie all over town to collect the cans, some of which were unfortunately stolen. But they were undismayed. On Sept. 12, 1983, she made the first deposit with the city, and the account earned more than 10 percent interest for a while. Gene Penne became one of Goldie's advisors, and her group went through the lengthy process of incorporation and non-profit status as a 501(c)3 organization. Every day Goldie phoned all the people on her list, rallying her troops. State Assemblyman Stan Statham and his aides were prodded frequently. She and her helpers sponsored every kind of fundraiser they could think of. They sold baked goods at sidewalk sales, served coffee or cold drinks on the sidelines at parades summer and winter, held yard sales, put on luncheons, card parties and spaghetti dinners, saved grocery store receipts for rebates, served hot dogs and sodas at grand openings. But they also approached businesses and corporations for grants and donations. Effie Bonner, one of the original group, baked dozens of pies at a time for the bake sales, then went home and baked more if they sold out. Ella Costa's turnovers were one of the treats. If there were any leftovers, Goldie peddled them door to door downtown and at city hall. In less than four years, they reached the $20,000 goal, but fundraising continued and the city applied for a grant. Meanwhile the city received funds for a senior center replacing the decaying structure on the north edge of town. Those funds were later folded into plans for the center, and it became the Community/ Senior Center. When tidelands oil funds became available, Red Bluff resident Dr. Ron Clark contacted Assemblyman Stan Statham, who was well acquainted with the effort, and he agreed to carry a bill to provide $600,000. Even with a second grant of $300,000, the two fell short of estimated costs. Donations of money, materials and labor, along with a $50,000 county anticipation note helped fill the gap. The state awarded the grants to Tehama county, and in 1989 ground was broken on city-owned property on the corner of Kimball and South Jackson streets. Even though incomplete, the Center opened its doors on Jan. 18, 1990. At the request of the city, the Auxiliary spent well over $50,000 of its funds for tables, chairs, caddies, furniture, window coverings, stage curtains, sports equipment, dishes and flatware, and half the cost of the walk-in refrigerator-freezer. The center was dedicated in June 1992, and Goldie received a bouquet of roses in recognition. Goldie never stopped raising money for the center. Just two weeks before her death on Sept. 23, 1993, she was selling baked goods at a sidewalk sale. By then her focus was on a youth wing to be added on the west side of the building.

After Goldie's death, Effie Bonner, last of the original group, was elected president, and fundraising continued. When a separate endowment association was formed, the Auxiliary stopped seeking grants from businesses and corporations so it would not be in conflict. The Auxiliary helped pay for finishing the covered entrance, parking lot, outdoor lighting, bathrooms and roof repair, much of it channeled through the endowment. About a year ago the endowment was dissolved and spent the last of its funds on the center. 

Now that the center has been in use for 22 years, replacements are needed for some of the Auxiliary's original purchases. They have recently bought new tables, dishes and flatware. Chairs are on order. Through the years the Auxiliary's donations have been more than $122,000. Goldie's dinner is in memory of her and the countless others who have helped. Many were seniors when they started, and have died since them. Goldie's portrait by Ralph Ehorn beams down on us from the wall of the fireplace room, encouraging the Auxiliary's efforts. 

Red Bluff Daily News, March 8, 2012
By June Quincy-Special to the Daily News