History

In 1975, representatives from the City of Des Plaines and Des Plaines Park District recognized the need to provide dedicated services to the senior population living in the community.  After convening with senior residents and discussing their wants and needs, a “senior center” program was established, catering mainly to the 70+ age group and offering the traditional Arts-Bingo-Crafts activities.  Meeting in the basement of Immanuel Lutheran Church’s rectory, this newly-formed group would often congregate and “read a little, play cards, visit and socialize.”  In 1976, “members” of this group decided to formally incorporate in order to better organize its activities.  The Des Plaines Community Senior Center (DPCSC) was formally incorporated on August 11, 1976.  Shortly after, an application to be classified as a 501(c)(3) charitable, not-for-profit corporation was submitted to the IRS, which was subsequently approved.

Around 1980, the organization’s need for program space increased exponentially as the participant base grew.  The City of Des Plaines agreed to provide rent-free space in the former West Division School (now The Willows Academy).  Three major changes occurred in the 1980s: as the participant base grew and administrative activities increased, the individual serving as “director” became a full-time employee; two part-time staff positions were created – Program Director and Assistant Program Director; and an “Advisory Board,” made up of center participants, began to transition to a more formal governing Board, recruiting persons from the local business community to help lead the organization into the future.

In 1990, due to the deterioration of the building and need for a structural overhaul, the need arose to identify a new location.  Discussions ensued with the Des Plaines Park District, whereby the DPCSC would occupy a separate wing for senior activities in the new Prairie Lakes Recreation Center with the Senior Center maintaining the drop-in and service-oriented programs and the Park District would manage events, trips, classes, and other like programs.  With regard to this arrangement, a long-term agreement with the Park District was reached, and the City of Des Plaines helped the DPCSC to secure a Community Development Block Grant, while the Senior Center raised funds to purchase new furniture and fixtures for the space.

  • 1991 – The possibility of the Des Plaines Community Senior Center morphing into a traditional municipal model was discussed.  This would have resulted in the organization’s charter being voluntarily released and the City of Des Plaines assuming all responsibility for managing and funding the center and its activities.  The final decision reached was not to move in this direction.
  • Fall of 1992 – Des Plaines Community Senior Center moved its operations to the Prairie Lakes Recreation Center, and shares operations with the Park District as previously mentioned.
  • Winter of 1992 through Summer of 1993 – Organization goes through significant leadership transitions.
  • Fall of 1994 – Des Plaines Community Senior Center assumes responsibility from the Park District for all senior-related programming.
  • 1997/1998 – Knowing that the formal agreement with the Park District would be coming to an end in a few years, discussion and planning began relative to the purchasing a dedicated facility for the organization.  Eva Frisbie, a long-time member of the Senior Center, provided a $1M gift for the purpose of capital acquisition
    • Two options were seriously considered over the course of several years:
      • Acquire and refurbish the old Des Plaines Library site, located at Thacker and Graceland (eventually deemed financially unattainable)
      • Expand the current space at the Prairie Lakes Recreation Center (eventually deemed unattainable due to several engineering obstacles)

In 2003, American Superstores (parent company of Osco Drug) announces that the store located at Northwest Highway and Mount Prospect Road. is closing; the Cumberland Commons complex is put up for sale.  DPCSC Board of Directors evaluates the opportunity and acts swiftly, signing a contract, on June 27th, to acquire the property.  Build-out of location takes a little over one year to complete.  In April of 2005, the Frisbie Senior Center officially opens.  Concurrent programming was offered at the Frisbie Senior Center as well the Prairie Lakes Recreation Center.  In March 2010, all operations moved to Frisbie Senior Center, where the organization currently operates.