‘Roundup’ attracts 130-plus
West Center gym named for civic leader Hughes
The Woodmen Valley Chapel limited liability corporation (LLC) that now manages the Westside Community Center began reaching out to locals June 26 with the
center's first open house “roundup.”
The event also featured the first naming of any part of the three-building complex that had been Buena Vista Elementary School until May 2009. The gymnasium in the west building will become the “Hughes Gym,” in honor of longtime Westside leader Dave Hughes, who initiated a fundraising campaign last winter - before the Woodmen LLC stepped forward - when closure of the Community Center appeared imminent because of the city's tight budget.
No exact count was kept on roundup attendance, but 130 free lunches were served by the chapel's Mobile Kitchen, according to center director Dick Siever, “and we know several people didn't eat.”
Among those present were Mayor Lionel Rivera and City Councilmember Bernie Herpin. “Thanks to Woodmen Valley Chapel, it gave City Council the flexibility to keep the other three community centers open,” Rivera said in a brief speech. He also noted Woodmen's previous efforts to aid the homeless, commenting that “you've set a high standard” and suggesting that the Westside Center model - an outreach-focused church taking over operations - could become a future “model” for the city's Meadows Park Community Center.
During the roundup, people toured the facility - which includes a preschool, community rooms, food pantry and creative and fitness centers - and joined different games and activities. In addition, Siever said, “we got ideas on programs, and that was the purpose - to hear from people on what they'd like to see here.”
Three other open house-type events are planned before winter, Siever said. But other than Aug. 1, as part of the annual Organization of Westside Neighbors picnic at Bancroft Park, no dates are set.
Woodmen took over the Westside Center in May under a three-year contract with City Parks. Through an outreach arm of the church, Woodmen hopes to use economizing, marketing, volunteering and donations to make the operation viable.
The Hughes presentation was a surprise. Speaking in the center's gym, Siever asked him to come up to the front. Hughes was prepared with information about his proposal to name the middle building of the former Buena Vista Elementary School after LeRoy Ellinwood, its former principal (1949-58) and local historian. However, Siever beat Hughes to the punch, announcing that because of Hughes' long efforts on behalf of the Westside and recently the center (for which he fundraised $6,000 last winter), the center's gym will be named after him.
“I was stunned, really surprised that they would even think I should be recognized,” the 81-year-old retired Army colonel said afterward, then mused that in years to come, “people will say 'who was Hughes?'”
A plaque should help. Mounted in the gym, it will note Hughes' “tireless and diligent” civic involvement and summarize his main contributions over the years, Siever said.
As for naming a building after Ellinwood or anybody else, such proposals have to go through the city's volunteer naming board, Siever said the city has told him.
Westside Pioneer article