Elders gather to celebrate long-awaited Senior Center renovations

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On the morning of Friday, January 31, the place to be was the Katherine “Molly” Hatch Senior Center’s grand reopening. After a lengthy construction process that wasn’t without a delay or two, Tulalip seniors were treated to a morning of warm meals and variety of snacks courtesy of their much needed, upgraded kitchen.

Dedicated kitchen staff showed how productive they could be with the latest line of kitchen equipment, while seniors occupied the Center’s more spacious hall. Thanks was given to the community partners who made the day possible. It wouldn’t have been a true elders gathering without delightful stories and good memories of those no longer with us being shared.

“A lot of times we look at life and wonder about what can happen after you’re gone,” shared elder Donald “Penoke” Hatch. “I can’t thank the Tribe enough for what they’ve done here for my mom. She was 75-years-old and still serving the seniors and elders. That was just her life and she enjoyed doing it.”

Unveiled was a painted portrait of the Center’s namesake, Molly Hatch, donated by her family. The Tulalip History Project played a film with a number of interviews and heart felt words shared by her as well. Seniors took in the precious moments while enjoying a salmon-filled lunch.

Next to the main hall is a space dubbed the Virginia Carpenter craft room. Known for its creativity running on Tuesday and Thursdays when basket making, cedar roses, and various arts and craft classes occur. 

During the grand reopening festivities, some seniors looked forward to more renovations to come and suggested a variety of excursions that could benefit mind, body, and spirit.

“We’d like it if our crafts room were made bigger. It gets cramped when we’re doing larger projects, like making center pieces for our annual elders’ luncheon,” said Virginia. “Also, if our new travel van were used to take us more places, like places outdoors where the elders can walk around and see new sights.”

CEO Shelly Lacy, while discussing future plans and activities with the seniors, said, “It’s a priority to listen to their suggestions and plan more events for our elders to get together. I think we also need to figure out how to have our younger generation interact with their elders more. There’s an intergeneration connection we are missing right now. Our elders have so many stories and teachings to share.”

A phase two of Senior Center renovations has received budget approval and is currently in the strategic planning phase. Incorporating additional space for the crafts room and other critical support functions is among the planning.  

“The Tribe has done wonderful things for a lot of us, and this building is just one example of that. Us seniors look forward to more things to come,” said Penoke.