The revving of powerful engines, an art show, live music and tasty food – Rally4Rianda doesn’t scream “old people.” And that’s a great thing.
Rianda House’s all-ages-friendly annual event on May 21, which is surrounded by a month of fundraising, is consistent with the senior center’s inclusive attitude. It and the St. Helena Public Library are the closest things to a community center we have, and they each take pride in serving the entire Upvalley, not just St. Helena.
We all know quite a few seniors, if we aren’t in that somewhat amorphous category ourselves already. All ages are welcome at Rianda. “We don’t card at the door,” as Executive Director Julie Spencer likes to say.
Susan Kenward, a new boardmember who’s chairing Rally4Rianda, said she thinks of Rianda House as a social center, not a senior center.
Indeed, in only nine years of existence, Rianda has carved out an identity as one of the Upvalley’s community jewels. As we’ve said before, its importance will only grow. The valley already has more people older than 65 than younger than 20, and seniors are the fasting-growing age segment of the population.
Boomers, octogenarians and millennials alike will find something to appreciate at Rally4Rianda. Twenty-nine classic and soon-to-be-classic cars plucked from local garages will be on display at the Calistoga Gliderport from 10:15 to 11:15. They range from a 1912 Cadillac to a brand-new falcon-wing Tesla, which will be shown alongside a 1955 Mercedes 300 SL gull-wing.
Escorted by police, they’ll make their way to St. Helena and remain on display from noon to 3 p.m. at Tre Posti, 641 Main St. With $5 admission, there will be Dixieland music by the Saint Helena Community Band, local wine, Mad Fritz beer, and sliders, hot dogs, ice cream sandwiches and free popcorn served by Tre Posti. Admission is $5.
Guests will judge an all-ages art show with the theme “Transportation Through the Ages,” with winning entries to be displayed at Rianda.
Organizers are hoping Rally4Rianda generates $125,000, helped along by $50,000 in matching donations made in memory of Spottswoode vintner Mary Novak.
The target is about a third of the nonprofit’s $384,000 annual budget. Unlike many senior centers, Rianda receives only a small sliver of its funding from the city – this year in the form of a $10,000 grant.
With that modest budget, a staff of three, and 75 volunteers, Rianda serves 200-300 people a week with a calendar of social events, wellness classes, lectures, games and other programs.
More than half of the people who come to Rianda live alone. Its programs keep their minds sharp, help them stay happy and productive, introduce them to new friends and reduce the risk of depression, isolation and suicide, which are sadly prevalent among the aging population.
The St. Helena community has recognized Rianda’s importance from day one, donating enough to help the center pay off its mortgage early and get off to a fast start.
Attending Rally4Rianda and donating throughout May at RiandaHouse.org are great ways of showing that we haven’t forgotten.