New Salvation Army center to include two-story gymnasium, athletic field

Meanwhile, center offers services, activities and food for low-income individuals

Courtesy Long Beach Salvation Army
The Long Beach Salvation Army is planning to expand its senior center, located at 3000 Long Beach Blvd., to install an intergenerational two-story gymnasium and soccer field. The above rendering shows the proposed project site of the expansion, which is set to include a basketball court, a workout area and an indoor-walking track. Elm Street will be closed off and a playground will be built in its place.

Gloomy weather didn’t stop approximately 200 seniors from attending the Long Beach Salvation Army’s grand-opening celebration of its Al and Faye Taylor Senior Center Wednesday morning.

Salvation Army Captain Sergio Garcia said the newly built center offers seniors various classes and activities, health check-ups and a place to socialize.

“This has been a dream that has been several years in the making,” Garcia said. “We’re excited to partner with so many vendors and community groups to make the grand opening as big as it is today.”

The center, located at 3000 Long Beach Blvd., is only a portion of what the final “campus” is set to become.

Officials said the senior center will eventually be connected to a two-story gymnasium with a basketball court, a workout area and an indoor walking track.

The Salvation Army and the Long Beach Planning Commission are keen on eventually closing off Elm Street and installing a playground for children in its place. The lot across Elm Street will house a multi-use field, which will stretch to Pasadena Avenue. Garcia said that, in total, the campus will be five acres in size.

Melinda Lankford, Long Beach Salvation Army official, said that the whole campus will eventually be considered a Red Shield Youth and Family Center, similar to the one that has been in Los Angeles for over 60 years.

A needs assessment conducted in 2007 and 2008 collected data about residents in the area. In 2014, the assessment was updated, according to Garcia.
The assessment found that at-risk youth and seniors lacked a localized help center in the area.

Normally, the project would have solely developed a youth center, but results from the needs assessment informed Salvation Army officials that the new facility needed senior-focused resources.

Approximately 200 seniors attended the Long Beach Salvation Army’s grand-opening celebration of its Al and Faye Taylor Senior Center Wednesday morning. The center, located at 3000 Long Beach Blvd., currently offers seniors social activities, health check-ups, various types of classes, events and food.

“The needs assessment was right,” Lankford said. “There is a need for more senior activities– from low income to high income. They need social and health advising. All seniors are invited to the food pantry. Whether it’s a homeless person or a low-income person who comes in and gets a food box once a month. All are invited.”

Garcia said the end goal for the center is to have its doors open every day of the week. Currently, the facility will be open during monthly planned events spanning throughout the summer until a full-time director is hired to oversee the center.

Senior center officials will host a hearing screening on Tuesday, June 12. Following that event, a senior comedy show will take place on Tuesday, July 10.

The Salvation Army is hoping to make the center more intergenerational further into its development. For instance, they have plans to host events where seniors read to young children.

During a grand opening event on Wednesday for the Long Beach Salvation Army Corps’s senior center, attendees were treated to food, health check-ups and massages. The facility, located at 3000 Long Beach Blvd., is slated to include a gymnasium, a playground and an indoor walking track.

Robin Dunn, Salvation Army capital campaign director, said the total cost of the center is $8.5 million. She said there is a remaining $3 million left to raise.

Lankford said the Long Beach City Council will vote on the athletic-field portion of the campus sometime this month. Last month, the Long Beach Planning Commission approved the proposed project, according to Lankford.

“Many city council members have come out recently to see our project,” she said. “They’re very supportive, and they’re excited about what we are doing.”

Lankford said the family who named the senior center refrained from sharing information. However, they said the senior center was named after their deceased parents and donated toward its construction.

“That’s what was missing when we did a needs assessment,” Lankford said. “Normally, it would have been a youth center, but when we did the needs assessment we recognized the needs of seniors as well. Now that the center is done and paid for, the Salvation Army can focus on senior activities.”