Bothell Foundation remembers 'forgotten people'
by Mina Hochberg
"They're the forgotten people," said Larry Harrison, founder of the Sonja L. Harrison Foundation. "They live in senior centers with their stationery, pen, and envelopes, but no one to write to."
The Sonja L. Harrison Foundation was instituted in January as a non-profit organization in memory of Harrison's wife, who was killed in an accident near their home while trying to care for her injured dog who had been hit.
The idea for the foundation took root 16 years ago, when the Harrisons realized how many seniors spent the holidays alone. They gathered together 47 seniors and brought them to a restaurant for a holiday dinner, gifts, and entertainment. The dinner is now an annual tradition.
Cars and vans pick up 1,000 people, chosen by lottery, and bring them to the Sea-Tac Red Lion for the day's festivities. At past events, seniors have danced to the Mills Brothers' music, laughed at Milton Berle's comedy, and hugged plush teddy bears, Santa Claus, and the Chanel girl.
This year, Harrison plans to hold a Thanksgiving dinner in addition to the traditional holiday dinner in December, and next year, perhaps a hayride and picnic event.
"[Seniors] have a right to have fun," Harrison said. "This is their day."
According to Harrison, the foundation is the only one in the nation dedicated to providing pure fun for seniors.
"It's gaining a tremendous amount of momentum. I want to take it across the country," Harrison added.
For more informaton, write to the Sonja L. Harrison Foundation, 18132 Bothell Way NE, E-5, Bothell, WA 98011.