Musings: Vintage House probably over 50
It was the 21st of May, 1988, that ground was broken for The Vintage House Senior Center. So, if you count from that date forward the local senior center named in honor of Jerry Casson, is 35. Tack on 1983, when it was incorporated, and you can say that it is 40. But, the memories that I have floating around in the recesses of my brain could make it actually somewhere between 46 and 52 years old
When ever I walk through Vintage House, I feel the presence of the community leaders who gave it birth, including my dad, Robert Lynch, his close friends Bob Stone and Rich Peterson, and most of all, Jerry Casson, the woman who inspired them and hundreds of other Sonomans to step up and build this special place for Sonoma Valley seniors.
I believe that the general idea of Vintage House goes back to at least 1971, with the founding of FISH (Friends in Sonoma Helping), whose members were also either founders on first supporters of the Vintage House project.
In 1975, FISH, with Jerry leading the effort, created Care-a-Van, a free transportation service for seniors. Adele Harrison joined Jerry in getting that going. Sometime after that, perhaps as early as 1976, the Care-a-Van service and other senior services were being managed by a FISH through a separate committee, which operated out of the Congregational Church on Spain Street.
In October of 1977 those folks announced the establishment of Vintage House at the First Congregational Church, describing it as a “drop-in program for seniors.”
At that time, the operation of FISH, Care-A-Van and Vintage House involved most of the same people. The Soroptimist Club and Kiwanis Club were big supporters, as were a number of ministers, including Alan Piotter, pastor of the Lutheran Church.
Very quickly the programs offered by Vintage House at the church multiplied and became more popular. The folks running Vintage House realized that the Congregational Church was too small for the growing popularity of the senior programs, and it was about that time that Jerry went to my Dad with the idea of raising the money for a brand new Vintage House facility. Very soon thereafter, Bob Stone and Rich Peterson joined the conversation. The initial talks about raising funds for a new building took place around our family kitchen table and the antique desk in my dad’s office at the Index-Tribune.
Many Sonomans eventually joined them. It was true community-wide effort, which raised more than a million dollars.
For the record, the doors actually opened in 1989.
It really doesn’t matter how we mark the building’s milestones, but rather all of the good things that have been done from its beginning. Let’s just say it all began sometime around a half century ago.
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