GARDEN GROVE : Joint Facility Would Mix Young and Old

There's a 90-year-old woman whose knowledge of sewing is as sharp as ever, but her fingers have lost the ability to thread a needle. Sitting beside her is a 9-year-old girl who can thread a needle and is eager to learn about making clothes.

That scenario, like the program that would bring them together, exists only in the imagination of the leaders of two Garden Grove groups who hope to bring senior citizens and school-age children together in a day-care program called "LifeShare."

"Our seniors really love to watch children play. And children seem to have a natural affection for older people," said Mallory Vega, director of the Garden Grove Community Adult Day Care Center, which serves about 50 senior citizens.

"The plan is to raise $1.6 million to build a 15,000-square-foot joint-use facility," said Pat Halberstadt, executive director of the Girls Club of Garden Grove, which serves about 100 children daily in day-care programs. The two-story facility would have common as well as separate areas for seniors and children.

When negotiations to build an adult center fell through, the two groups decided to combine efforts. They want to build the joint center at the southeast corner of Nelson Street and Acacia Parkway, about a block away from the day-care center's current location in the United Methodist Church complex.

"A child would have the opportunity to observe the cycle of life," said Halberstadt. "We're thinking about all kinds of things, like oral history projects and maybe a combined choir of seniors and girls."

The key player will be the city of Garden Grove, which owns two of the three lots on which the groups want to build. The "LifeShare" proposal is expected to go before the City Council at tonight's meeting.

The third parcel belongs to the Orange County Transit District and could be a right of way for a future light-rail line.

To avoid blocking possible development of a rail system, the portion of the project on the right of way could be developed as a greenbelt or set aside for staff parking, according to Vega and Halberstadt. The new facility would allow both groups to expand the number of clients they could serve.

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