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Senior center event a rockin’ success

It’s a rare event when 400 people show up for a party and leave the place in better shape than it was before.

That was the case at the Rockin’ the Riford event held May 6 at the Florence Riford Adult Center on La Jolla Boulevard, a chance for the public to visit the center and help ensure that its doors stay open well into the future. The event was hosted by the Friends of the Riford Center, a local group that is raising funds to create a new endowment for the center. The group raised about $20,000 at the event.

“Hopefully that effort will continue,” said Glen Rasmussen of Friends of the Riford Center.

A main purpose of the Rockin’ the Riford event was not only to raise funds, but to raise the public’s awareness about the valuable service the center provides to the community.

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“People seemed to have a wonderful time,” said Lynda Hunt, director of the center. “There were people who never knew what we were doing here. They were able to catch a glimpse of what goes on here and meet the seniors who actually utilize the building.”

An estimated 400 to 500 people came throughout the day to learn about the services and programs offered at the Riford Center as well as enjoy food from the French Gourmet and music by the Tony McCashen Band. The huge turnout for the event represented a strong kick-off for the Friends of the Riford Center’s efforts to take over as the administering agency of the center when LiveWell, the nonprofit that currently administers the center, relinquishes that role at the end of June.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Rasmussen said. “We publicized it as extensively as we could, the word got out and the support was wonderful.”

Friends of the Riford Center has set an immediate fundraising goal of $150,000, enough to create an endowment to keep the Riford Center open for the next two to three years. The money would pay for the nominal fee the city charges the center to lease the building as well as paying the salaries of its three full-time employees.

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Considering that the Rockin’ the Riford event was held primarily to introduce the public to the center, the funds that were raised at the event encouraged Hunt that the fund-raising goal will be met.

“I’m hopeful,” Hunt said. “For a free event, to collect over $20,000 was encouraging.”

Rasmussen is also confident that the funds will be raised in time to keep the center open without interruption. He said LiveWell could operate the facility on a month-to-month basis after June to provide additional time to raise funds, if necessary.

“We are going to raise the money - the center is absolutely not going to close,” he said.

The Friends of the Riford Center’s ultimate goal is to establish an endowment of up to $1 million in order to fund the center in perpetuity and be recognized as the as the official administering agency.

“If it is operated through a local board of directors, we can do it a lot more efficiently,” Rasmussen said.

The Florence Riford Adult Center is the only senior center serving La Jolla and Pacific Beach, and offers its members a myriad of services. Members can catch rides from a car service hired by the center that loops through La Jolla and Pacific Beach four days per week and purchased home-delivered meals at half price.

The center hosts yoga classes three times per week and Thai Chi classes once every week. Aerobics classes are held every morning. The duplicate bridge games held every Tuesday regularly draw around 75 people, Hunt said. The center hosts safe driving classes, drawing classes and arts lectures sponsored by the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library.

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The center provides members with free legal advice and there is a tax preparer working on site every year at tax time.

Members can check out video tapes and DVDs for free, and the center has a room full of books, both in large print and regular, that members can take at any time. There’s a White Elephant Sale room where members donate items for others to buy.

The building was deeded to the city by Florence Riford with the stipulation that it be used as a senior center as long as there is a need.

“The need is increasing, so that center is going to continue on,” Rasmussen said.

For more information or to donate to the Friends of the Riford Center, call (858) 459-0831.


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