Jan. 25, 2012
Caption: Front entrance to the new Helen Drake Center.
A grand opening ceremony was held this morning for the new city of Phoenix Helen Drake Senior Center at 7600 N. 27th Ave. The 12,766-square-foot senior center offers a daily nutritious meal, a variety of health and educational programs and special events.
Mayor Greg Stanton, District 5 Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, District 1 Councilwoman Thelda Williams and City Manager David Cavazos participated in the ceremony in addition to members of the Helen Drake Senior Center, the Helen Drake family and members of the community.
The center is named in honor of Helen Drake, who worked for the city of Phoenix from 1965 to 1986. She was a pioneer and visionary for aging services and in 1968 began studying the nutritional needs of minority and low-income elderly. In 1973, as the first administrator of the city’s Aging Services area, she secured funding and created the Senior Companion Program to assist homebound seniors.
Funding for the new senior center was secured through the 2006 Bond Program. The Helen Drake Senior Center is adjacent to Phoenix Fire Station 30 to the north and Orangewood Church to the south. It replaces the former Manzanita Senior Center at 35th and Northern avenues.
Constructed on a vacant infill property, the new center includes a multi-purpose room, serving kitchen, crafts room, computer lab, library, two activity rooms and free, on-site WiFi. The outside area, shaded with more than 100 mature trees, includes an enclosed memory garden. Energy-efficient features include adjustable solar light tubes, hallway skylights, dual-pane insulated windows, a supplemental roof mounted 40 kilowatt solar array, natural and recyclable materials, ground- and polished-aggregate concrete floors, low-maintenance desert landscaping and a 104-vehicle pervious concrete parking lot.
The new building will result in an annual lease savings, and additional savings are expected from solar-generated power and other energy-efficient design features. The architect for Helen Drake Senior Center was Holly Street Studios, and the builder was Brignall Construction.
The Phoenix Human Services Department (HSD) provides to the community a comprehensive array of services, which work to prevent homelessness, maintain independent living and prepare children for success in school. HSD operates 15 Senior Centers, 154 Head Start classrooms, three Family Services Centers and the Family Advocacy Center.