District 1 Opens New, Larger Senior Center Building

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


Elders in District 1 now have an upgraded space for recreation and healthy living at the newly constructed Senior Center, which significantly increases capacity and amenities for more activities and programming. The new center, which opened March 28, is just north of the District 1 Service Center.


“It means so much to be able to move into our new senior center,” said Joyce McAfee, District 1 senior organization Chairperson. “It feels like moving into a new home. Finally, we have a large, adequate facility that provides so much space both inside and out, which allows us to do much more.” 


McAfee was overjoyed to see the new building come to fruition and is looking forward to the future in the new space. “My grandmother and the elders from back in that time would be so amazed at the new building,” she said. “We must follow in their footsteps, working to make our Community strong and successful for those who will come after us.”


District 1 Community Council Representative Arzie Hogg is pleased to have a new center and said, “I’m happy the effort was pushed to build the new center, despite other development priorities and it’s now here to serve our elders.” He is also grateful for everyone that helped in the centers planning and development. 


Councilman Hogg said, “This center provides more meeting space, an additional kitchen, and has more room for indoor recreational activities.” 


Additionally, the building also includes an elderly-friendly workout room and a craft room/office. Also, there are more bathrooms than at the previous center. And elders now have a large back porch with lounge furniture and tables for outdoor meetings and meals. 


The building’s exterior is aesthetically appealing, and inside, art adorns the walls to reflect District 1’s unique place in the Community.  It includes a mural by Donnie Miles titled “Mok Tash Uhb Echu’shach” (Where the Sun Comes Up).  


McAfee recalled its inspiration came from an elder from the Westend, who told her, “Blackwater are the ones that push the sun up in the east every day.”  McAfee said, “That was inspiring to me. I thought, ‘We have an important job, and we better do the best we can for the Community every day.’” 


Today, the center is only open on a limited basis and continues to abide by the Community’s Executive Order 14. It provides limited meals, small workouts, chair volleyball and elder committee meetings.


McAfee stated that if the pandemic subsides and executive orders allow it, they hope to have a grand opening this fall. ”We look forward to having holiday parties, monthly bingos, birthday potlucks and having our dances inside or outside when the center opens up,” she said.