A group of Costa Mesa seniors is concerned that money from a non-profit memorial foundation could be used in the coming months to benefit the outgoing Costa Mesa Senior Center Corporation instead of the center itself.
A group of seniors circulated a petition this month to ensure that funds from the Albert Dixon Memorial Foundation will still benefit the senior center even after City Hall assumes control of the facility.
The petition, which garnered 76 signatures in less than a month, asks that the board overseeing the Albert Dixon Foundation donate the money to the non-profit Costa Mesa Foundation to be used for special events and programs at the senior center.
The petition was made public during a senior center board meeting Tuesday morning.
Edwina Worsham, who has frequented the center for many years, submitted the petition to Mike Scheafer, president of the Albert Dixon Memorial Foundation.
"It's all very secretive," Worsham said of the fund. "We want to know what's going to happen to that money."
The group recently gave the financially troubled senior center corporation $50,000 to shore up the organization's budget until the city takes over in September.
Dixon, a mild-mannered man, was a daily fixture at the center, at 695 W. 19th St., until his death in 2002.
The foundation was created in 2006 after Dixon's second wife died, leaving the center $650,000.
The money was given to the center "to provide funds for the disadvantaged and aged and to support the programs and activities of the Costa Mesa Senior Center," according to the Dixon Foundation's tax forms.
The Albert Dixon fund currently has $590,000 in its account, Scheafer said.
Since the board recently announced it will remain intact, though independent of the senior center for the next year, it still could be given some of that money upon request, Scheafer said.
The Albert Dixon board is comprised of two current senior center board members, Judy Lindsay and Arlene Flanagan; a former board member, Patricia Linsky; and Scheafer.
In an Aug. 13 letter to Worsham, Scheafer wrote that "our board will only accept requests from the Costa Mesa Senior Center Corporation for necessary programs."
However, in an interview Tuesday, he clarified that the Albert Dixon board would entertain requests made by Costa Mesa seniors as well. The Albert Dixon Foundation will not fund requests made by City Hall, Scheafer said.
"Any senior can contact us for funding, but we're used to getting it from the senior center corporation," he said.
The Albert Dixon board will discuss Worsham's request during its next meeting, he said.
In previous meetings, senior center board members debated the merits of using the money, which many seniors believe should fund programming rather than day-to-day operations and employee salaries.
However, board members assured seniors Tuesday that the money will not be used for severance packages for senior center employees who are losing their jobs in the transition.