Richmond’s Seniors Have a Ball

Photo Essay, Ann Bassette

With a smile spread across his lined face, Eli Williams, 76 surveys the senior filled tables around him in the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. He says he likes what he sees.

“This reflects Richmond,” Williams said of the diversity of people around the room, people who reflect the history of this working class community. Raised in the city since age three, Williams now heads the Commission on Aging in Richmond. .

He was one of many who helped put on the 17th annual Winter Ball for seniors in Richmond.

As the Junius Courtney Big Band, featuring vocalist Nina Causey entertained the festive, elderly crowd of about 300, dinner was served, catered by local business Gaye Williams & Company. Students from Pinole Valley High School’s Interact program donned Santa hats as they volunteered their time for the event, seating seniors and serving them dinner.

Compared to the centennials that were honored at the party, Williams is relatively young.

Willie Jo Payne, 101, and Mattie Alonzo, 104, both received roses and certificates honoring their long lives.

According to Williams this is one the most anticipated senior events in the Bay Area. “We sponsored the Ball as a give back to the community, it’s also a fundraiser to help continue our efforts in the community.”

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