Program Director Charlie Petersen discussed the use of a room at the new senior center.
By Shawn Byrne
“This is pretty fun. This is really fun. This is amazing.”
That is what Charlie Petersen, program manager at Wise Owl Center, said when he saw the inside with walls in place of what will be the George and Vi Wellik Wickenburg Community Services Center when it opens sooner rather than later.
Bayley Construction, the Scottsdale general contractor of the project, informed Petersen it expects to have the renovation completed Nov. 7.
“This is a new experience for me,” Petersen said on a visit to the site Wednesday, Sept. 18. “I haven’t been here before like this. The walls were framed, but this looks real now.”
The new senior center at the Gatehouse building on West Wickenburg Way and Yavapai Street, which has been vacant since 2010, will double the size of the current facility at 255 N. Washington St.
A tour of the current Wise Owl could make one think it was cluttered, but it is simply out of storage space. That problem will soon be alleviated with the 12,500 square feet new center replacing the 6,400 square feet Wise Owl.
Vast sums have been raised toward the $2.6 million project, but more are needed.
“We still need money. We’re not there, but we’re close,” Petersen said. “We’ve got three proposals out to foundations, and we’re still needing people to help support the project.”
The Wellik Foundation granted Wickenburg Community Services Corporation (WCSC) $650,000 in 2015 to purchase the Gatehouse building, and the foundation put forth another $850,000 earlier this year to support the renovation project.
“There’s been a lot of participation and a lot of generosity from the community,” Petersen said. “It is really wonderful. It’s wonderful to see.”
The center will house the CAP office, Wise Owl Senior Center, home delivery meals, food bank, mobile food pantry, and the Freedom Express senior transportation program under one roof. This centralized location for senior services will significantly increase WCSC and the Foundation for Senior Living’s ability to provide services to Wickenburg’s rapidly growing senior population, according to Petersen.
Those services are provided at the much smaller Wise Owl Center, and more than 9,000 meals were served there and more than 13,400 delivered from there last year.
The new location will include a 140-seat multipurpose dining hall with stage, a large kitchen, billiard room, computer room, conference/classroom, reception area, social center, food bank, administration offices, restrooms and an outdoor terrace.
When the George and Vi Wellik Wickenburg Community Services Center opens, Petersen expects a significant increase in the number of people who will be provided services from the center.
“Our senior population is large now and growing daily. We want to continue making a positive impact in Wickenburg and the surrounding area,” WCSC president Patty Sickles wrote in a letter posted on at www.wcscwickenburgaz.org/. “Our goal is to provide a place for our seniors to meet and socialize, have a nutritious meal in a facility large enough to operate our life changing programs. You will never make a more far reaching investment in your town.”
Contributions to Wickenburg Community Services building project may be mailed to P.O. Box 782, Wickenburg, AZ 85358 or made online at wcscwickenburgaz.org. Gifts are tax deductible. They also qualify for the Arizona Tax Credit program so contributions could reduce taxpayer’s state income tax.
Wickenburg Community Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to making life better throughout the Wickenburg area since 1975.
The Wellik Foundation was established by Vi Wellik in 1998 to serve Wickenburg in perpetuity. Its mission is to be the catalyst to preserve and advance the quality of life in the Wickenburg area. It is a supporting organization of the Arizona Community Foundation.