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December 3, 2008 > Thanksgiving at Ruggieri Senior Center

Thanksgiving at Ruggieri Senior Center

By Simon Wong

One hundred-and-twenty Union City seniors and their guests gathered for a Thanksgiving Luncheon at The Ralph and Mary Ruggieri Senior Center on November 25. A raffle was also held with prizes ranging from food and beverages to household and electrical goods.

Besides the historical origins of Thanksgiving, the deliverance of English settlers by Native American Indians after the severe winter of 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the significance of this year's event was not lost. The Senior Center celebrates its Tenth Anniversary having been dedicated in November, 1998.

The facility is named after Ralph and Mary Ruggieri, stalwarts of the Union City community. Not only was Ralph Ruggieri president of the City's Senior Commission, both he and his wife were involved with the Lions Club, Hayward Chamber of Commerce and the Knights of Columbus.

The idea of a Senior Center in Union City was born in 1987. Sebastian "Buster" Bellomo, Miles J. Price and Ralph Ruggieri were the Founders and sat on the Senior Commission alongside Julia Garcia, Frank Potje and Rosie Larsen.

Ralph attended the ground-breaking ceremony but, sadly, passed away in July 1997 before the Center opened. Mary passed away in October 2000.

The community center was designed by architects Chris Lamen & Associates of San Rafael, California, with input from the community and from the City's Leisure Services and Economic & Community Development Departments. The $3.7 million project was funded with a Community Development Block Grant.

The 14,000 sq. ft. building, located at 33997 Alvarado-Niles Road, is part of the City's Senior Village and the venue for many activities and events ranging from ballroom dancing and health & fitness to lunches and live music.

The assembly hall is known as the Miles J Price Hall. A dedication plaque to Commissioner Price, who passed away in early November 2008, is located by the entrance.

Larry Orozco, the Center's Supervisor since it first opened, has fond memories of Ralph and Mary Ruggieri and their colleagues and, clearly, a respect for their legacy. A small, framed photograph, which was taken with Mary when the building entered service a decade ago, can be found in his office.

For details of the activities and events at the The Ralph and Mary Ruggieri Senior Center, run by Union City's Leisure Services Department, visit or telephone 510 675 5495.

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