By Kira Clark
For most people, the Fourth of July is a day off from work. Not for Delores Ulrich.
For the last 14 years, 78-year-old Ulrich has organized the Sno-Valley Senior Center’s Fourth of July spaghetti dinner and strawberry shortcake sale fundraiser. Starting at 7 a.m., on the 4th, Ulrich and her fellow volunteers tromp into the Sno-Valley Senior Center kitchen to prepare 500 servings of strawberry shortcake for hungry parade-goers.
Made with local strawberries and fresh organic whipped cream, the shortcake has become a Carnation Fourth tradition. The annual fundraiser generally brings in around $4,000 to support the senior center. Much like many other activities and programs at the center, the fundraiser relies on volunteers and donations from local producers.
The spaghetti feed is 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday July 3, at the senior center. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children.
The strawberry shortcake sale starts at 10 a.m., July 4, at the center and goes until 2 p.m., or supplies run out. Each serving is $5.
For Ulrich, strawberry shortcake production is a family event. Her daughter, Leslie Day, and 10-year-old granddaughter, Sarah Day, will be in the kitchen cutting strawberries and mixing batter with her.
Ulrich’s sister, Margaret Denton, volunteered her to help with the fundraiser 14 years ago.
“She said, ‘I think we should do this together,’” Ulrich said. “Then she decided to go to Minnesota and I was left doing the shortcake.”
Since the Minnesota trip, Denton has been helping every Fourth of July. This year, 90-year-old Denton is staying home.
Ulrich has lived in Carnation for 49 years. She recalls when the parade was so short that it circled through town twice.
“I’ve known a lot of these people for 30 or 40 years,” Ulrich said looking around the center.
Ulrich met Barb Haugen 40 years ago at Thora’s Beauty Parlor in downtown Carnation. Ulrich was giving Haugen a D.A. or ducktail style haircut, popular in the 50s.When Ulrich first started cutting hair 60 years ago, cuts were $1 and perms were $10.
“People came and visited,” Ulrich said. “I always had the coffee pot on and a plate of cookies.” In a small town like Carnation, the beauty parlor became a ladies’ social hub. Haugen and Ulrich became dear friends. Haugen has helped Ulrich with the fundraiser every year.
Haugen’s mother, Mary Maos, was a founding member of the Sno-Valley Senior Center in 1975.
“She was a little bitty thing,” described Ulrich. When Maos drove down the street in her big Chrysler, all you could see was the tip of her head peeking over the steering wheel. Other founding members were Ethel Gould and Dorcas Smith. Gould got things done by bossing people around.
“Oh ya, she liked to tell people what to do,” Ulrich said.
The center was founded in 1975 in the refurbished Odd Fellows Hall in the middle of Carnation, one and a half blocks behind city hall. Everyone in town jumped in to do what needed to be done. Today, the center is still run by volunteers. Director Amara Oden is the only full-time paid staff member at the center; everyone else either works part-time or volunteers. More than 300 seniors serve each month at the center, working at the thrift store, making meals, coordinating drama productions, helping with set up or sitting at the front desk.
“I love this place so much, I work myself too much,” said Dee Aronica, commenting on the number of hours she volunteers at the center.
Sitting around a table with her friends eating chicken salad and blackberry cobbler for lunch, center member Rae Stewart said, “There is absolutely no reason for anyone to just sit at home. If you live between Fall City and Duvall, there are buses which can come get you.”
Seniors can ride the Sno-Valley Shuttle anywhere in the Valley for 25 cents. The shuttle will pick seniors up on their front door and assist with loading and unloading. Call (425) 333-5554 or (425) 888-7001.
The shuttle should be called with 48 hours notice.
“Everyone is so friendly and I love all of the classes,” said Aronica. “We aren’t cliquey. Anyone can come sit at our table.”
Activities during a typical week include fitness classes, adult day health, blood pressure checks, Wii bowling, artist open studio, bread delivery, garden walks, reflexology, bridge games, Zumba and computer tutoring, to name a few.
“This is fun, welcoming place. It gives folks a chance to get out and socialize a bit,” said Adult Day Program Coordinator Karen Huntsinger. “It feels like a community hub.”
For Ulrich, the center is a place where community continues. After living for nearly 50 years in Carnation, Ulrich knows the town buzz. Whether she’s cutting hair at the beauty parlor or baking strawberry shortcake for the Fourth of July at the center –Ulrich is a core part of the Carnation community.
Sharon Conn and her grandson Colby Conn helping to prepare lunch at the Sno-Valley Senior Center in Carnation.