On October 13, 2010, Mayor Bowser cut the ribbon of the new senior center at 90 Halstead Street in the presence of US Senators Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez, NJ State Senator Nia Gill, NJ Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, the East Orange City Council, and many other dignitaries and guests. The excitement on the face of the seniors was very visible. Approximately half a million dollars came from federal aid.
Senator Lautenberg praised Mayor Bowser and Katherine Willis for their excellent work over the period of eight years to finish this project. The facility, which will serve about 10,000 seniors and disabled adults each year, was built in part with $444,800 in federal funding, secured by Senators Lautenberg and Menendez.
"Our senior and disabled citizens deserve a place in their communities to exercise, interact and access vital medical services," stated Lautenberg. "I was pleased to secure federal funding to create this center and I am proud to be here today to see this tremendous vision for East Orange become a reality."
"The grand opening of the East Orange Senior Center is an investment in New Jersey seniors," said Menendez. "This new state-of-the art Center will provide the 10,000 seniors who will use this new facility in the coming year the services and help they need to lead active, safe, and fulfilling lives."
"Even in tough economic times, we have persevered and completed our promise to have our own Senior Center facility," Bowser said. "A multitude of people are to be thanked who dedicated their time, energy and resources to bring much-needed programs and services for our seniors."
Katherine Willis said that from the computer room to exercise room to game room, the facility has state-of-the-art equipment and still need some more if donors can donate to this center.
The $2 million rehabilitation of 90 Halsted Street, formerly known as the Wilkerson Center, was made possible through $444,800 in federal funding, city funds and contributions from city residents and businesses. The facility now has a pool, multi-purpose room, commercial kitchen, dining facilities, health suite, computer room, and garden plaza.
According to the census more than 13 percent of New Jersey residents are over the age of 65. By 2025, senior citizens are expected to comprise more than 17 percent of the state's population. The location is perfect because the seniors received a state-of-the-art senior center in the center of East Orange, so from any part of the city seniors can take advantage of the facility.