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Peter Sellitti, long time Goeske Center volunteer turns 100

It was a packed house at the Riverside senior center for an extraordinary birthday celebration.

Peter Sellitti celebrated his 100th birthday at the Janet Goeske Senior Center on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

I don’t know what 1 p.m. at the Janet Goeske Senior Center looks like on a normal Thursday. I do know that Peter Sellitti’s 100th birthday party is not a normal Thursday and the Goeske Center is packed to the walls. 100 years is a rare achievement but it’s evident that Peter’s durability isn’t why the crowd showed up to celebrate.

Peter grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He volunteered for service in the US Coast Guard during World War II and stayed for three years. After his term with the Coast Guard, he returned to New York, got married, and took a job with the Longshoremen, where he worked for over 40 years. After his retirement and the passing of his first wife, Peter sold his house in Brooklyn, told his kids he was headed west, and moved to Riverside. 

Shortly after his arrival, 24 years ago, Peter discovered the Goeske Center and has been a fixture there ever since. He started volunteering at the Center and quickly became an invaluable utility player for the Goeske team. One of his earliest tasks was popping and bagging popcorn for members. He recalled having to lay down the law when people tried to sneak an extra bag for the road.

An early benefit of his time at the Goeske Center was meeting Sarah VanBuhler. Peter and Sarah partnered up almost immediately and have been together for the last 24 years, much of that time spent at the Goeske Center. Sarah recalls seeing Peter shortly after his arrival. “He was so kind. He knew everyone’s name, and he wanted to help everybody.”

Peter still helps out at the center where he can. When he and Sarah are away, they like to watch golf. Peter likes to play Candy Crush on his iPad. Peter calls The Goeske Center his “home away from home.” He has become an institution within an institution. 100 years is rare, but so is finding a true second home where you are loved and valued. 

The Goeske Center provides a wide range of services for seniors and the disabled. More information is available here.