Our History

Friends of the Salem Senior Center was formed in 1992 with a goal to “provide services and funds to the Salem Senior Center for the operations, support, materials, services, and capital improvements of the facility.” Since that time, Friends has/does:

  • Assisted in the opening of the new state-of-the-art facility on Portland Road
  • Contributed $50,000 to the Center’s Annual Budget
  • Secures funding from local businesses to support 20 different annual events.
  • Opened a Career Center and employment service for the 50+
  • Funds the Center’s Mission to evolve and grow to better serve this fast-growing population, the 50+’rs of the Willamette Valley

Historical Timeline


  • Area Senior establish non-profit organization, Salem Area Seniors (SAS) to develop an activity center for older adults.


  • Title III grant from Older Americans Act established funding for senior activity center.
  • Project and funds administered by School Department.


  • First Senior Citizen budget approved by City Council.
  • Senior Coordinator hired by City of Salem.


  • City of Salem assumes larger share of Senior Center’s operational costs.
  • Part-time counselor hired, monthly newsletter printed.


  • City Council allocated Revenue Sharing funds after an anonymous and generous gift is received for the construction of a Senior Center, SAS Inc. and seniors community-wide participated in fund raising.


  • City purchases land in Urban renewal area for future Senior Center site; bidding process begins.


  • Dedication of new Senior Center. Assistant Secretary of HUD present. Building size: 15, 300 sq. feet. Kitchen sent to serve and deliver meals to seniors. New center has 3 full-time staff and more than 600 volunteers.


  • Program Advisory committee (PAC) established and replaces SAS, Inc. executive board as the Center’s Advisory committee.


  • Senior Center expanded; an additional 3,639 sq. feet added.
  • Funding source: Federal Jobs Bill and SAS, Inc.


  • The Senior Center Advisory Committee (SCAC) established by Mayor Anderson-Wyckoff.


  • Friends of Salem Senior Center formed. Friends preamble:”…as friends, patrons and volunteers dedicated to support Center 50+ with our labor and funds establish this as an Oregon nonprofit corporation…”


  • City of Salem, Bill No. 23, Ordinance 23-94, states that the Common Council of the City of Salem amended the Salem Revised Code by adding chapter 20E which declared the policy of the city that all matters relation to senior centers shall be submitted to the Salem Senior Center Advisory Commission.


  • United effort of Senior Center users (more than 500/day) along with SCAC, Senior Center staff, community partners, and the city of Salem enabled Center to remain open during a City of Salem budget crisis. Center 50+ leadership and City support staff begins a year-long strategic evaluation and planning process.


  • Strategic Operations Plan Committee established.
  • Four-hundred attend first major benefit.
  • Computer Lab opened, Saturday programs began, 29,559 meals served at Center meal site.


  • Strategic Operations Plan establishes goals: Stability, Vitality, Collaboration, Gateway Access and Senior Leadership.
  • Resource Development Plan created to raise 50% of operating budget – goal achieved.


  • Respite Program, “Among Friends,” established to support families who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.


  • Average attendance: 500/daily.
  • 600 volunteers contribute 51,000 hours operating over 100 programs; 55 families receive respite care support through “Among Friends” program.
  • Over $288K raised through program fees, room rentals, private & business donations and fund raising.
  • Senior Center Strategic Planning Team of 1999 reconvened as the Vision 2020 Team.


  • SCAC establishes the guiding document for the Center: Vision 2020…Unlock the Future.
  • Salem Senior Center receives National Accreditation from the National Institute of Senior Centers – the first in Oregon to receive this honor.
  • Foundational goals affirmed” Stability and Vitality, citizen involvement and senior leadership, Collaboration, Strong programming for individuals age 50 and older, their families and community.
  • Annual Appeal fund-raiser most successful to date, exceeding projected goal by 50%.


  • Excitement builds as preparations are made for the new Salem Senior Center. Sale of the current center, an Urban Renewal Grant and Community support, the move to a new and enlarged center will be a reality.
  • Increased focus on “Friends of the Salem Senior Center.
  • Salem City Council adopted Vision 2020: Unlock the Future, the revised strategic operations plan.


  • New Building, Center 50+, opens fall 2008.
  • 30,000 sq. foot facility. Includes: Health & Wellness Center, Fitness Room, counseling Office, designated Respite Room, Large Commercial Kitchen, Coffee Bar/Bistro, Lapidary Shop, Crafts Room, Classroom space, Woodshop, Computer Room, Lecture Hall, Dining Area/Auditorium and a welcoming common area with fireplace.
  • Alzheimer’s Network of Oregon now housed in new Center 50+ — a good partnership and resource for Center 50+ patrons.


  • Membership in Friends of Center 50_ nearly tripled over previous year to 875 members.
  • Chemeketa Community College, the longest standing partnership of the Center through a difficult economic year, continued to develop and diversify classes and students. The most popular classes were in music, dance and martial arts with a total of 756 students enrolled in all classes at Center 50+.
  • Center 50+ is now serving more than 650 a day with 200 various programs, an outstanding daily lunch, anew Health & Wellness Center and the “Among Friends” adult day respite program.


  • Center 50+ continues to be the only non-membership senior community center in Marion, Polk or Yamhill Counties.
  • The new facility has been the backdrop that allows Center 50+ to be a leader in creating the new model of senior community Centers
  • Average Daily attendance: 746
  • Center 50+ met its 50% revenue goals as well as remaining within budget expenditures.
  • This year’s Annual Appeal was, in a word, “fantastic.” Friends of Center 50+ hosted an “Evening with Renaissance Woman, Dr. Maya Angelou at the Historic Elsinore Theatre. More than 1.000 guests attended this event and enjoyed the wit, wisdom and wonderful story telling of Dr. Angelou. The event grossed over $25K.
  • Center 50+’s Razzle Dazzle Performing Group held a Holiday Dinner and Show which raised $4,500 to support the Center’s programs and services.
  • Salem-Keizer Meals on Wheels, a proud partner of the Center, prepared over 35,000 meals in the state-of-the-art kitchen with an average of 115 lunches served in the dining room. Many advances have been made to update services and modernize the meal program to both stop senior hunger and assist the next generation of older adults to live healthy and independent lives. In line with these advances, the meal program moved its office to Center 50+.
  • The respite program celebrated its 5th anniversary as it served 83 participants and their caregivers.
  • Fit 50+ maintained 250 current members. Daily attendance in the cardio room is 70 members a day.
  • Volunteer workforce has increased and continues to be the lifeblood of Center 50+. There is a very real need to revamp volunteer management to coordinate the fulfilling work that volunteers wish to perform.
  • Future plans: all four goal categories received strong and specific recommendations and actions to be implemented by staff.
  • Update to Resource Development Plan 2010-2015: come Grow with Us completed.