La Jolla’s Riford Center regrouping for the future as it launches fundraising drive

An exercise class draws a younger set. Photo: Dave Schwab

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

The Riford Center in La Jolla has launched a $400,000 capital fundraising campaign to fulfill its mission to serve as an adult community center for residents age 50 and above. The facility will have new name — and direction — in keeping with its new philosophical direction.

“We have arrived,” proclaimed Ruth Yansick, the CEO for the “new” Riford Center, noting “community” is being added to the center’s name to reflect that the revitalized facility now represents all those young at heart as well as those chronologically aged 50 and beyond.

In the 1960s, Florence Riford purchased the property at 6811 La Jolla Blvd. for use as a bridge club. In 1970, she established a trust requiring the center to always be used for La Jollans over age 50 and establishing an endowment for the facility’s perpetuation, which has subsequently run out.

Since 2007, when the community-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit Friends of the Riford Center took control over operations, an ongoing transformation has been ongoing to transform the center from a senior-oriented facility into a full-blown adult center offering a broader range of activities serving “multiple age groups” while still providing elder services.

“We’re starting fresh; we’re going forward,” said Sherry Ahern, chair of Riford’s recently launched capital campaign, which is seeking community contributions to complete building improvements, sustain operations and build a new endowment.

To date Riford, with community donations, has renovated its kitchen, great room, hallways and courtyard. But more money is needed for other improvements, including renovating the front entry and lobby; upgrading entrance windows and doors, lobby flooring, exterior landscaping and lighting; adding new lobby and custom cabinets in the great room, and installing sliding doors and windows around the courtyard.

The new kitchen, where classes are taught and meals can be cooked for events, is part of the center’s new direction. Photo: Dave Schwab“This whole place has been renovated with donations,” said Pancho Dewhurst, a La Jolla contractor and Riford board member. “The community has already come together to bring this together. Now we just need to top it off, bring more awareness.”

Attorney Glen Rasmussen, who chairs the center’s board, noted the facility, which presently has about 400 dues-paying members, is solvent, but added that’s a difficult situation to maintain when half the center’s operating expenses come from dues and the other half from donations.

“We want to make this center more beautiful and accessible and comfortable so we’ll get more members,” he said. “What we really need is an endowment like the Riford Library has.”

CEO Yansick said the whole purpose of the Riford Center is to give back to the community.

“It’s a good feeling, giving back,” she said.

Contributors who’ve supported the Riford include Jacqueline Woods, Judy and Jack White, Dr. Lee Vida and Rhonda Read, Lynne and Mason Rosenthal, Kevin and Sherry Ahern, Dr. James Walker and Harriet Lazer, Mickey Stern, Kathleen Buoymaster, Richard and Kaye Woltman, Audrey Geisel and the Dr. Seuss Foundation, La Jolla Woman’s Club, Dottie Stanley, the San Diego Foundation, La Jolla Rotary Club and Kiwanis of La Jolla.

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