From “The Senior Center” to “The Center for Active Living”

6 photos of active people at The Center for Active Living in West Seattle

I am so fortunate to get to lead an organization that serves community members as they age in greater West Seattle. It’s an honor to experience the wisdom, vitality, and fun that our members bring to The Center for Active Living.

It’s been exciting to see our growth in the four years since I started as Executive Director. We had about 600 members in 2019—before COVID. During the depths of the pandemic, that shrank to about 375 members. We have grown quickly the past two years and recently surpassed 1,312 members!

Older adults practice yoga at the Center for Active living in West Seattle.

Yoga is one of more than 40 activities offered at The Center for Active Living.

While our mission is to serve people aged 50+, we welcome anyone to join or participate in our programs. Our members range from ages 27 to 102 and come from all backgrounds and neighborhoods across Seattle’s Westside peninsula.

You may remember us as the Senior Center of West Seattle, a name we held for 50 years as we served our community. We began exploring changing our name about two years ago in response to feedback from our members and the community, which showed that a lot of folks over age 50 didn’t identify as a “senior” and didn’t want to go to a “senior center.”

To find the right new name, we held focus groups and surveyed our members and the broader West Seattle community about what that might look like. We looked at what other senior centers across the region and the country were doing—and discovered that many other organizations were changing their names for the same reason.

After months of quiet preparation behind the scenes, we announced our new name at our fundraising breakfast this spring to big applause! The Center for Active Living was the most popular name in our surveys. We feel that our new name celebrates everything we love about our organization, its members, and our community.

It also better suits our goal to welcome a wider demographic into our programs and be a place where everyone feels included. Ultimately, we want to reflect the vibrancy and energy of what’s happening inside our building out into the broader community, so we can support the next generation as they age.

the center for active living logo

The Center for Active Living (4217 SW Oregon St, Seattle, WA 98116) is located one block north of California & Alaska Streets in West Seattle’s Alaska Junction. Nearby bus stops are served by Metro’s RapidRide C Line as well as Routes 22, 50, and 128.

One of the reasons our membership has exploded is the wide range of classes, programs, and activities we offer. We provide more than 40 weekly programs, including exercise classes, art programs, language classes, history lectures, dance, music, and much more. We also offer specialty workshops and events like chocolate-making, cannabis 101, sound bath healing, pickleball injury prevention, and technology lectures on topics like what to do if you’ve been hacked.

People want to be here because it’s a fun, engaging place full of opportunities to get involved and make friends. There’s always something new to learn or experience in our building.

The Center also provides essential services to folks who need social worker outreach, counseling, and support groups. And, we want to keep people in our community fed.  We are the best kept secret in West Seattle when it comes to a delicious and affordable lunch. We offer hot meals in a communal setting Monday through Thursday—and a café-style lunch option with soups, quiches, salads and sandwiches prepared from scratch every weekday.

Now that we have completed our rebranding, we are focused on two other long-term goals:

  • Expand our programming and hours, both within our current building and eventually outside our building in other pockets of our community, to reach more people.
  • Identify new sources of revenue so we can continue our current work and expand in the future.

Our goal is to be a place for everyone to grow into at whatever age they’re ready.

Amy Lee DerenthalAmy Lee Derenthal is Executive Director of The Center for Active Living (formerly the Senior Center of West Seattle). Learn more at

All photos courtesy of The Center for Active Living.

This article appeared in the July 2024 issue of AgeWise King County.