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GOLDEN AGE CLUBS

GOLDEN AGE CLUBS, established in 1941 at the Goodrich House Social Settlement (see GOODRICH-GANNETT NEIGHBORHOOD CTR.), were originally sponsored by the BENJAMIN ROSE INSTITUTE (BRI), the THOMAS H. WHITE CHARITABLE TRUST, and the Welfare Federation (see FEDERATION OF COMMUNITY PLANNING). Oskar F. Schulze of the BRI founded and directed (1941-48) this pioneering effort to provide "a purpose for living" for senior citizens. Before fleeing the Nazi regime during World War II, Schulze had begun such work in Leipzig, Germany. Similar groups existed in only a few U.S. cities (Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago) in the 1940s. Cleveland's Golden Age Clubs received national attention, in a New York Sunday News article (29 Jan. 1950), for example. Lucia Bing of the Welfare Federation's Committee on Older Persons worked closely with the clubs. By 1952 at least 35 local Golden Age Clubs provided social and educational activities at KARAMU HOUSE, the FRIENDLY INN, and the First Unitarian Church, among other sites. Open to all people over age 65, early clubs mirrored then common racial and ethnic divisions, with separate clubs for Jews and AFRICAN AMERICANS, for example. The Rev. James H. Woods, Unitarian pastor, social worker and attorney, succeeded Schulze as director (1948-54) when Golden Age Clubs officially separated from the BRI. In 2 pioneering ventures, the clubs helped convince CLEVELAND CITY GOVERNMENT, the Welfare Federation, and other social agencies to sponsor summer camps for Golden Age members at Camp Cleveland (1949) and to open 2 outdoor recreation sites with supervised activities especially designed for senior citizens (June 1952). In 1954, to coordinate the clubs and other burgeoning activities, the GOLDEN AGE CENTERS OF GREATER CLEVELAND, INC. organized, with Woods as director.