Facing challenges, addressing needs

posted Jan 8, 2018, 3:18 PM by SASC Admin   [ updated Feb 5, 2018, 3:40 PM ]
Linda Civitello
Executive Director 

Starting the Year
Starting as the Executive Director a year ago, I knew we had many challenges ahead but also the resources to face those challenges. Thanks to the collective effort of so many, we are on the way to making the Sebastopol Area Senior Center sustainable.

This has been an incredible year for us, especially with the tragedies in the North Bay. I am simply awed by the outpouring of time, talent, and treasure both for our community and our Senior Center.

Volunteer Appreciation
In October, we celebrated the many donated talents by honoring our volunteers with a reception at Heron Hall. Legacy Manager Nick Vannucci coordinated a beautiful spread for nearly 100 volunteers. The volunteers who run The Legacy and Holiday stores, those who deliver meals or give rides, Board members, fundraisers, and those who volunteer at the Senior Center work together to make this place possible.

Day Trips
Besides making this place financially solvent, there are many issues that we have strived to address this year. Our elders wanted to have the opportunity to get out and about, especially since so many cannot drive. In response, we significantly increased the day trips we offer. Since October, we have hosted seven-day trips from the Fort Ross Festival to whale watching, to the Nutcracker Ballet in San Francisco all thanks to Katie Davis, our new program director.

Providing Rides for Homebound Seniors
Our transportation program continues to provide rides for our dedicated volunteer drivers. Dean Brittingham, the transportation coordinator, goes above and beyond in responding to requests. With incredible sensitivity, Dean listens as many who live in isolation and can no longer drive request a ride to their doctor, grocery shopping, or prescription filling. In 2017, she has arranged over 2,500 rides for 600 individuals.

Supporting LGBTQI Elders
Responding to the needs of isolated LGBTQI individuals, we initiated our LGBTQI Elder Resource Center, managed by Communications Director Wayne Wieseler. Along with hosting sensitivity training, providing meeting space for LGBTQI groups and hosting LGBTQI dances, we’ve offered Aging Gayfully, taught by Gary “Buz” Hermes here at the Senior Center.

Preventing Falls
Another issue we are working on is fall prevention. Since Sonoma County has a higher rate of falls than most of California, we recognized the need to address this public health challenge. In response, we are launching a new program, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), an evidence-based fall prevention program focusing on fitness. It is being taught by one of our renowned instructors, Julie Smith, physical therapist, and is under the direction of a Community Advisory Committee whose goal is to develop a coordinated response from emergency personnel, medical professionals, and eldercare providers to reduce the risks of fall injuries in the Sebastopol and West County area.

Reducing Health Risks, A Fresh Look
To reduce health risks right here at our Senior Center we replaced our old lumpy hazardous carpeting with beautiful laminate flooring and refurbished the dining and game rooms. All labor and materials were donated Thanks to DSB+ Flooring, Local 16 of the Floor Covering Union, the Sunrise and Sebastopol Rotaries, and Sebastopol Hardware. Their efforts look beautiful and our Senior Center is safer and cleaner for our seniors.

Addressing Critical Issues

Other critical issues we have addressed include – instruction on using one’s cell phone, fraud prevention, dealing with clutter, medical cannabis, driver safety, and so much more. Responding to the needs of individuals who require private sessions, we have been able to offer individual counseling on legal matters, health care insurance, case management, and personal services such as foot care. This year we will provide many new programs addressing significant issues for our community such as: Aging in Place at Home, Preparing to Take Care of a Parent, Housing Options for Seniors, and Managing the Challenges of Dementia.

And, Having Fun
And, we have fun while doing these activities– lots of music, good food, games, support groups, and especially great camaraderie. This is the place to be!

The Sebastopol Area Senior Center is an incredible resource to our community. I am honored to direct this organization, to work with a fantastic board, staff, and volunteers, and am humbled by the support provided by this community.

Together in 2018, we will continue to develop this organization and our ever-increasing relevance to the growing elder community.