Bobbie Bonds is one of the founders of a group called ROAR, which stands for Resources for Oakland Active Retirees.
ROAR, about a year and half old, is affiliated the Downtown and Lake Merritt-Uptown Community Benefit District, or CBD. Bonds, who has a history of community activism, was serving on the Mayor's Commission on Aging when the CBD asked her to come on board to head up a task force to figure out ways to enlist active seniors to participate in downtown's revitalization.
She and a core group have been meeting as ROAR, and I've been attending some of their meetings to learn more about what they are doing.
The group has been joined by residents of Lake Park Seniors, on Alice Street, and others living near Snow Park. "We have come up with activities like cleanups at Snow Park, barbecues, Scrabble tournaments, and the like," Bonds said.
Bonds started Feet on the Street, an organized walking group for seniors who wanted to get out and exercise in West Oakland and in the Laurel district, where Bonds lives. Most recently, a Feet on the Street group began in the Snow Park area.
"The CBD provided us with vests and litter bags so we could pick up trash as we walked," Bonds said. "We like to talk to people, especially older people, we meet on our walks and encourage them to join us."
Besides serving on the Commission on Aging, Bonds also helped launch the Oakland Senior Shuttle that ran between the city's various senior residences from 2002 to 2008.
ROAR's next event is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Terrace Room at the Lake Merritt Independent Senior Living facility, located in the Lake Merritt Hotel, 1800 Madison St. The public is invited.
Diane Broch, community relations director at the senior living facility and a member of ROAR, described the event, titled Passages on the Lake, as a literary evening that will showcase Bay Area story tellers, writers and musicians. Admission is free, and reservations are encouraged for dinner or cocktails during the program.
First opened in 1928 when it was known as the Madison-Lake Hotel Apartments, the Art Deco-style Lake Merritt Hotel was designed by the noted architect William Weeks. It is on the city's Designated Landmarks list.
In the 1980s, the hotel was purchased by Randall and Cheryl Berger, who refurbished and restored it. Before the Bergers took over, the building, then in rundown condition, was threatened with demolition.
"We hear from folks all the time who remember coming here for important celebrations and romantic evenings over the years," Broch said. "The Terrace Room is one of those one-of-a-kind places with views of the lake that people like so much."
To make reservations for Passages on the Lake, go to www.thelakemerritt.com, or call 510-903-3600)
ROAR meetings are held at 10 a.m. the second Tuesday of the mont at the CBD offices in the historic Oakland Medical Building at 19th and Webster streets.
To learn more about ROAR's activities and how to get involved, call the CBD office at 510-238-1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.