In 1974 the city of Palm Springs created the first senior center under the auspices of a newly formed Commission on Aging
Aaron "Budd" Mizell
1909 - 1998
In 1974 a small program for seniors under the auspices of the City of Palm Springs Commission on Aging was the seed of today’s Mizell Senior Center. In the early years, social, recreational and educational opportunities were held in two rooms at a local elementary school. As programming and the population grew, the volunteers who led the organization split away from the city to create a separate non-profit. With the support of celebrities such as; President Gerald Ford, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Mrs. Frank (Barbara) Sinatra, Gene Autry and other luminaries who had a home in the desert, a capital campaign raised the funds to renovate to an old fire station on the corner of Sunrise Way and Ramon. The current Mizell Senior Center was opened in April 1991.
The first Americana Ball was held in 1982 as a fundraiser which became an annual tradition and included honorees President Gerald Ford, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Ambassador Walter Annenberg, Gene Autry and other legends of the desert. 1982 was also the first year the senior center began a daily nutrition program. Programs which encouraged wellness and physical fitness were available across the Coachella Valley thanks to a mobile unit.
Under the direction of board president, Ernest Noia, the center moved to its current building at the corner of Sunrise and Ramon on March 14, 1991. In cooperation with the city of Palm Springs, a former fire station was transformed into a 12,000 square foot senior center by architect Chris Mills and featured a large dining room, auditorium, counseling rooms and spaces for creative classes. It was in honor of the gift of $1.2 million to the center by Aaron Arden “Budd” Mizell and his wife, elected judge, Ruth Bard Mizell which Mizell found its name.
Today, Mizell boasts more than 2.200 active members who bring vibrancy to programs ranging from live music performances, computer training, Wii bowling, and a focus on health and wellness. A Matter of Balance, an evidence based training system to help prevent falls, has more than 1,100 graduates from seventeen sites across the valley. Classes are offered in both English and Spanish. Mizell’s Meals On Wheels program which reaches from Whitewater to the North shore of the Salton Sea and delivered 117,000+ meals to home-bound seniors in the 2017/2018 fiscal year. Another 53,000 meals were delivered to nine congregate meal sites in addition to the 28,986 meals served in “Café 480” located in the center. The Meals On Wheels program is partially funded by a grant from the Riverside County Office on Aging. The Stars Among Us Gala each year creates an immersive experience for attendees and is the primary fundraiser for the Meals On Wheels program.
As the population of the area grown, so has the usage of the Mizell Senior Center. In 2018, the Board of Directors and staff developed a vision for the future of the organization in order to deal with the aging of our community in a proactive manner.