Senior Activity Center
The county parks department built a new senior center in Bellingham that was a wonderful addition to the community. Catherine May, Director of senior activities for the Whatcom County Opportunity Council, moved her office there leaving the old and crowded building on Holly Street. This was ‘her’ turf and she developed a remarkable array of programs for seniors. But then, here came George to disturb her domain.
Advocates for the developmentally disabled were continually looking for space to have their dances, their various programs and were constantly moving from one venue to another. They had no home base. Since the Senior Activity Center was closed after 5 p.m. I thought it appropriate that they gather there for their activities. No way! Catherine would not hear of it. To Catherine, the disabled characterized the prejudicial stereotype of an old person and she was not about to allow them to use the building. No. No. No.
I telephoned the Director of County Parks, Roger de Spain, and suggested that he have a meeting of Catherine and me in his office. Such was arranged. Catherine vigorously defended her position. When she was done I stated that I was filing suit with the State Human Rights Commission against the Senior Activity Center for discrimination against the disabled and would be looking for damages. She did not believe that I would do so and looked to Roger de Spain for help. He told her that she had to open the facility to the disabled or would be in court, that Drake was not kidding. She was angry as all hell but allowed the disabled to use the center for their programs. Of course, none of this got into the press. We did not want to sully the name of our beloved Senior Advocate.