“The thing that really tied this group together was working for the acquisition of a building that we could call our own, but we knew that was impossible from a group living on Social Security and retirement checks,” Nelson said.
The committee raised nearly $10,000 for the equipment of the building through garage sales, bake sales, bazaars, pancake feeds, waffle lunches, memorials, name tags, cup and saucer luncheons, pies and selling of quilts and crafts. Whatcom County Parks provided much hard work and planning for the building as well.
Whatcom County Parks still owns the building, and for years supplied the building with a full-time Center Coordinator employee. As of April 2011, all Senior Center Coordinator positions are funded through the County, but are no longer County employees. Parks provide maintenance for the sites still owned by the county, but the Jet Oldsters must provide the funds for special projects.
In January 2012, Whatcom County Parks supplied the labor while the Jets paid the expenses to create three new spaces allowing for more activity programs, privacy for meetings and study groups, and a new gym area. Permits were purchased; a wall was built; a door, window, and carpet were installed; new window blinds hung; and walls were painted. Parks crew hauled the Cybex gym equipment to its new room where a new recumbent bike was placed. A multipurpose room for the Monday quilters and the Tuesday woodcarvers was improved with storage cubicles.
This multi-agency center sits on City of Ferndale property at Pioneer Park, and therefore the Ferndale City mows the lawn and offers a small stipend to the center budget. Currently,
volunteer Clara Limbacher maintains the magnificent flower
Whatcom County Council on Aging, which operates the Bellingham Senior Center, manages the daily noon meal program and county Meals on Wheels program. The council now has a part-time employee, known as the site cook, bring prepared meals to the center for serving. In 2012, Ferndale served approximately 7700 meals to seniors. This program is still vital to our community seniors who are on fixed incomes and may not have access to quality nutrition, fresh vegetables and fruits, and companionship.
The Ferndale branch of the Whatcom County Council on Aging met for the first time on September 18, 1969 in the dining room of the United Church. Several issues were discussed such as, the goals of the center, the reason for the committee, and logistics of mailing to residents over 60 years old.
A month later, a contest was established to pick an appropriate name. First place went to Mabel Hougen for “Club of Ferndale Jet Oldsters.” Second place went to Pansy Tucker for “Young as You Feel” and third place to Mrs. Nellie Robinson for her name of “Forgetmenot Club.”
Five years later, Anne Nelson said, “December 20, 1974, will long be remembered in the minds of the Ferndale Jet Oldsters.” That day was the culmination of five years of work, which began by bringing the people of the community together. In the wind and in the rain, 418 signatures were placed in the dedication ceremony guest book.