The Gilroy Senior Center is located at 7371 Hanna St. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

City officials are pondering a name change for the Gilroy Senior Center that would reflect the new services it could soon offer.

But members of the center are concerned that such changes could hinder operations of the longtime gift shop or close it altogether.

In 2019, the city hired PROS Consulting to develop the Recreation Facility and Program Needs Assessment. That report, released in 2020 after various community meetings, found that Gilroy was in need of an indoor community center that serves all ages.

With funding non-existent for a new building, city officials turned their focus to the Gilroy Senior Center at 7371 Hanna St., which they found was being underutilized, Recreation Manager Adam Henig told the Parks and Recreation Commission on May 18.

A downsizing of the parks department during the 2020 budget cuts also gave the city a chance to rethink recreational offerings, he added.

“It was a great opportunity for us to restart and reimagine what recreation can provide for the community using the senior center,” Henig said.

The center could offer such activities as tutoring, arts and crafts, community meetings and more. Henig said senior services will still be provided, such as tax services, lunch programs and other social activities.

Organizers of the center’s Gift Shop, however, fear they will be pushed out.

Beverly Kirk, president of the shop, said the volunteers were told that when the Senior Center reopens after its pandemic-related closure, “the Gift Shop will no longer be part of it.”

The shop, which has operated for more than 40 years, is located in a small room within the Senior Center.

“We senior ladies are heartbroken,” she said. “For years we have made our hand-crafted items to sell to the seniors who go to the center and also to people of all ages from the community. It gave us a purpose and a chance to socialize and still be a part of the world, feeling useful and having a fun time.”

The shop sells hand-crafted items made by seniors, who use the funds to supplement their incomes. It also donates funds to a sizable list of charitable organizations, which includes Meals on Wheels, Live Oak Adult Day Services and St. Joseph’s Family Center.

In one recent year, the shop donated nearly $5,000 across different Gilroy organizations, according to Kirk.

“We feel like we are being put out to pasture and I know our customers and all the seniors will be greatly saddened by this,” she said.

City of Gilroy spokesperson Rachelle Bedell said officials are exploring the possibility of a shared space with the gift shop, not shutting it down.

“Staff is not advocating for a closure of the gift shop but rather an accommodation that would allow the room to be used at other times for other meetings or classes when the gift shop is not open,” she said. “It also includes an option to move the gift shop to another space within the existing building.”

The Parks and Recreation Commission voted 5-1 on May 18 to recommend the Gilroy Senior Center be renamed the City of Gilroy Community Center, with Commissioner Ermelindo Puente dissenting.

Bedell advised that the possible changes and facility renaming are preliminary at this time, and the process is expected to go through the Gilroy Senior Advisory Board and Parks and Recreation Commission over the next several months before the City Council considers the recommendations.

“Listening to and understanding the feedback and concerns from all stakeholders affected by any possible changes remains forefront to our efforts,” she said.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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