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Santa Rosa gets $2 million donation for Finley Center expansion

The seniors wing of Santa Rosa's Finley Community Center got another big boost Thursday with the announcement of a $2 million donation, enough to ensure nearly all features of the new building can be completed.

The commitment from the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation allows the third and final phase of the $8 million project to move forward with the installation of an elevator and construction of second-story rooms for art, reading, computers and meetings.

The donation is on top of the $1.5 million gift from the foundation last year. The foundation is named in honor of former Press Democrat owner and publisher Ernest L. Finley and his wife, whose heirs, including former publisher Evert Person, sold the paper in 1985.

New Santa Rosa Senior Center

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"Because of the Finley Foundation's generosity, Santa Rosa seniors will soon have a new home away from home," said Carolina Spence, executive director of Seniors Inc., the nonprofit group that has been raising money for the center since 2002.

The new center is a public-private partnership between the city and Seniors Inc. The city donated the land for the project and has spent about $3.5 million in park development fees on it.

Seniors Inc. has coordinated the private sector donations, including chili cook-offs, in-kind donations from architecture firm Simons & Woodard, and gifts from wealthy individuals and foundations.

The 25,000-square-foot wing is being added to the southern side of the Finley Community Center on West College Avenue. The construction of the multi-use center, park and aquatics center were also made possible by a $7 million gift from the foundation.

"The Finley Foundation has just been fantastic to work with," said Marc Richardson, director of the city's recreation and parks department.

The project still needs $200,000, and Seniors Inc. continues to solicit donations.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com.


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