5 years for 55-plus crowd

About 100 seniors, many wearing red, as they do every Friday to support the troops, moved about the room talking to friends, found a seat and laid bingo cards in front of them.

Across the hall, about a dozen men were grouped around billiards tables, chatting as they held their cues and waited for their shot.

Five years ago, the bingo players had to meet in the city's rec room, and the pool sharks would have had to go to a bar and find their way to another city's senior center — Fountain Valley had no dedicated space to meet the unique needs of the 55-plus population. Which is why the community is celebrating the five-year anniversary of The Center at Founders Village Senior and Community Center with an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday.

"There really was no place for them to get together and 'call home,'" Mayor Larry Crandall said. "[The senior center] has been more successful than we ever imagined that it would be."

Joan Mendoza, resident and president of the Fountain Valley Senior Club, said there was definitely a need for the center.

"I think all cities should have a senior center because it gives seniors something to do," she said.

The $4.7-million center opened Aug. 31, 2005, as part of a senior campus that included the surrounding senior apartments and condominiums. The center was built through a partnership with the Fountain Valley School District and the city on the location of Fountain Valley's first school, Crandall said.

The opening brought out city and school district officials and so many residents that the Fire Department had to shut the doors and people had to wait outside for others to come out, Crandall said.

While the facility was an instant success in the community and serves about 300 people a day, officials are hoping the open house will be a chance for those who aren't sure about the center to come in and have a look around.

"People are amazed that five years have gone by already," said Nora Webb, the community services supervisor. "Some people that have maybe never been to the senior center will hopefully come and see what it's like."

The building on the corner of Bushard Street and Talbert Avenue features a billiards room with four tables, a computer lab, a lecture and art room, a fitness lab, a dance floor and a sun room, which is a circular room with many windows where locals can pick out a book to read or do a puzzle.

The center is open to Fountain Valley residents and those of neighboring cities for the variety of classes, services and activities that serve the senior lifestyle. There is also a hot lunch served at noon Tuesdays and Thursdays for only $2.50 for those 60 and older, and the center contracts with an outside company to provide meals to homebound seniors in the community.

Several class instructors will showcase their classes, including yoga, line dancing and longevity stick — a kind of martial arts that uses a stick the height of the participant — during the open house. There will be a steel drum band playing calypso music and giveaways. Staff will also be serving coffee, desserts and a candy bar.

If You Go

What: Fifth anniversary celebration open house for the Center At Founders Village Senior and Community Center

Where: 17967 Bushard St.

When: 2 to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (714) 593-4446

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