More than twenty-five years ago on June 26, 1983, the Madison Senior Center celebrated its grand opening. This one million dollar facility was the first building in Madison designed specifically as a center for older people, but it wasn't an easy road by any means.
"It was over a period of eight years that we went from establishing the need for the center until the doors actually opened," Florence Gunderson, member for Mayor Soglin's Senior Advisory Committee, commented. Extensive surveying was done in early planning to ensure that he needs and preferences of older adults in the Madison area were met and considered in the design, operation, and coordination of resources. Information on services, educational offerings, and cultural opportunities were offered to fulfill the goal of the Senior Center, which was (and is) to enhance the lives of older adults and "to promote successful aging."
Generous donations for Madison Rotary Foundation, the United Madison Community Foundation, William E. and Edna Walker Fund for the Elderly, the Thomas E. Brittingham Sr. Madison Trust, the Oscar Mayer Foundation, the Cremer Foundation, CUNA Mutual Insurance Group Charitable Foundation, and First Wisconsin National Bank were received. The hard work and personal efforts of Mayor Paul Soglin and his successor, Mayor Joel Skornicka, made the grand opening of the center financially possible. It was Mayor Soglin who first proposed the massive Capitol Centre project, which replaced two surface parking lots with 200 units of elderly housing, apartments, a senior center, a parking ramp, and a supermarket. Despite objections of skeptics Mayor Soglin persevered and pushed the proposal forward.
Focused on exceptional programs and activities, the Madison Senior Center historically welcomes 40,000 visitors annually. Almost 8,000 different people take advantage of two to three thousand events each year. And 300+ volunteers of all ages enhance programs and services at the Senior Center and in the community. Both state and national accreditation are maintained and attest to excellent programs and quality operations, steadfast donors financially support the programs and activities offered here, while the City of Madison includes building and basic staffing expenses in its budget.
Congratulations Madison Senior Center!