'Huge success' for Westside Center's first-time Community Picnic
She underestimated the event's appeal.
Not counting 100 volunteers, other people involved in the center and those who were promoting groups or activities, she estimated afterward that a good 250 people showed up.
Located on the 2.8-acre former Buena Vista school property since 2009, the city-owned facility has been operated since 2010 by the Woodmen Valley Chapel's community outreach arm, ACTS (A Call to Serve).
The picnic turnout was so overwhelming that the two-hour event temporarily ran out of food about halfway through. All the 250 brats and dogs that center staff and volunteers had started with were cooked up by then, laid onto attendees' paper plates.
“I think it was a huge success. We did a good job of setting the groundwork for future picnics,” Fuller summed up afterward. The center has previously hosted similar affairs by other groups, but this “was a good foothold for our own picnic,” she added.
The free festivities included a barbecue, live entertainment, kids' activities, publicity about center offerings, booths with community information and a focus on the playground that had been removed by the city last April (and is now scheduled for replacement in September).
The previous playground had been installed through an intensive school/community effort in 1995 when Buena Vista was still a District 11 public school site. A time capsule had accompanied that installation. Despite water damage to its contents, Fuller was able to salvage many items - chiefly photos and student writings - and had them on display in one of the school's old cottages.
“The funniest thing is the swinging bridge,” reads a short student piece from the 1995 capsule, talking about the then-new playground. Ripped in half, with a water stain in one corner, the essay continues, “Thank you for putting up the playground. Sometimes I go and play on it the whole day.”
Open Monday through Friday and most week nights, the Westside Community Center presents a broad spectrum of programs and classes - some free, some with a cost. There's also a preschool, and buses bring in students from Buena Vista and West elementaries for YMCA after-school activities during the school year.
Here are some of the Community Center's offerings: French, Spanish, English as a second language, senior meals, fitness center, dance classes (kid and adult - various types), ballet, Silver Sneakers (senior exercise), medical clinics, beading/jewelry making, art, photography, writing, crafts, yoga, meditation, a music jam, pickleball and table tennis.
For a full list, with class/program specifics along with days and times, click on the Westside Community Center link at the top of the Westside Pioneer home page at this link.
The center phone is 385-7920 x100.
Westside Pioneer article