“Neigborhood News Bureaus” – Sam Pannell Community Center

By Amy Lawrence

The Sam Pannell Meadowview Community Center is a City of Sacramento, Department of Parks and Recreation, community center and one of the five chosen “Neighborhood News Bureaus” in the Sacramento area. It offers many recreational and human services and houses many community events, such as neighborhood meetings, club and organization meetings, human resource testing and various festivals and fairs. In addition, rentals are available at the Pannell Center for birthday parties and wedding receptions.

Pannell “Basement” where community teenagers
routinely gather.

One community service provided by the Pannell Center, is the free usage of a computer lab with Internet access. People can go in on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and check their email or do online research. Kids can go in to the computer lab and work on homework or play fun and educational games.

Pannell Fitness Center

Some other services include a congregate senior meal on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and a morning walking club.

“On average, we have between 6,000 and 8,000 people that come through the door every month,” says Laura Bjornsen, director of the Pannell Center. The center opened in June of 1995 and has since become a regional draw for those seeking information about what South Sacramento has to offer.

“It’s an information hub,” says Laura Bjornsen, director of the Pannell Center, “It reaches out. It’s not just the Meadowview community that participates in things that happen here.” People can go to the Pannell Center and find out what the city has to offer, how to pay certain bills and who to call for particular services.

Bjornsen has seen several community-related improvements, which she connects back to the Pannell Center. “I believe that at the time when this [the Pannell Center] was built, the community residents here became more connected to the city, to the council.”

Bjornsen feels that the South Sacramento area is often represented negatively in the media. However, in relation to the new idea of “Neighborhood News Bureaus,” which seek to inspire local residents, students, seniors, etc., to tell the stories of their community, Bjornsen suggests, “I really see it [Neighborhood News Bureaus] as a way to advertise resources found throughout the community.”