A Little History - Honoring George Bartlett
In my last column, I mentioned that I’ve been collecting stories of seniors who have contributed to our community in some significant way. This week, I’d like to share a little about George Bartlett. What makes George Bartlett so notable is his contribution to the seniors in our community. With that in mind, here’s a little history of how the Ukiah Senior Center began and George’s key involvement.
During 1969 and 1970, the idea of senior centers was sweeping the United States. The Office of Economic Opportunities (later to become North Coast Opportunities, or NCO) appointed a local ad hoc committee to establish a purpose, plan programs and to secure a facility to develop a senior center. George Bartlett was an original member on that committee.
Along with Claude Trimble, Al Eldrick and Arthur Burke, Bartlett worked for many weeks with people from AARP, Retired State Employees Association, Retired Teachers Association, Methodist Senior Citizens Group, the Progressive Senior Citizens and other individuals to create a senior center. Their mission was, “To create programs which will assist seniors in the fulfillment of their social, physical and intellectual needs.”
Thus the Ukiah Senior Center was born.
During the early 1970’s, in addition to delivering services such as health care and meals to low income seniors, one of NCO’s functions was to help the senior center develop its own leadership and management.
The Older Americans Act was passed at this time and money moved from the federal to the state level. When the County of Mendocino set aside $100,000 for all senior programs in the county, NCO stopped providing as many direct services and the Senior Center became more independent, establishing a board of directors and hiring its own administrators, first Clarence White and then George Bartlett. This was a huge developmental step for the organization.
The Ukiah Senior Center was incorporated on August 2, 1972 and its first elected board consisted of members Jean Taylor, President; Claude Trimble, Vice President; Al Eldrick, Treasurer; and Pearl Knight, Secretary. In September 1975, George Bartlett was appointed as the Center’s Administrator.
Bartlett had previously been the Board Treasurer, and had discovered that the Senior Center had no accounting system or any record keeping. As the Center’s Administrator, he brought his experience as a businessman to bear, making certain the Center had a double-entry bookkeeping system and clear operating guidelines. This structure became a model for senior centers throughout the area, as others looked to the Ukiah Senior Center as an example of a well run organization. In honor of his contribution and years of service, the main gathering hall at the Ukiah Senior Center is named Bartlett Hall.