Community members gathered Tuesday for dessert and refreshments at the Kenai Senior Center to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the facility.
City employees and local politicians spoke to a crowd of about 65 about the center — which was launched in 1971 as a multipurpose trailer — and the role its participants play in the community.
“The biggest treasure of this facility is the seniors who use it,” said Hal Smalley, a former Alaska state legislator who has served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. “Kenai loves its seniors. We love you very, very much.”
State Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, spoke about the seniors he’s become close to over the years.
“I’ve had some dear friends that have been kind of sustained in this building,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be here; 50 years is amazing.”
Micciche also spoke about the importance of pressing local politicians for funding and resources for senior centers across the state.
“We always make sure that continues,” he said.
Kathy Romain, the executive director of the senior center, said she tries to honor the original vision of the facility to help seniors enrich their quality of life.
“If you look at the mission statement … that was a mission statement set by people 50 years ago,” Romain said.
She also gave special recognition to the staffers and volunteers.
“We have a great team. … It is a privilege to work alongside you,” Romain said.
Several speakers, including Kenai City Council members Jim Glendenning and Henry Knackstedt, and Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander, emphasized the importance of stabilizing the Kenai bluff, which will ensure the building — located at the end of Senior Court in Kenai and overlooks Cook Inlet — won’t be placed in jeopardy in the years to come.