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Senior Center Coalition Inspires Creativity and Collaboration to Benefit Older San Diegans

Senior center directors have been meeting virtually via Zoom since the pandemic began.

Every other month, San Diego Seniors Community Foundation brings together senior center directors from around the county to discuss ideas, make new connections, and share success stories about their work. The San Diego Senior Center Coalition has been meeting regularly for more than a year now, providing a forum where hard-working providers can learn and collaborate within a friendly group of peers. So far, the results have been inspiring.

For example, take a presentation on social isolation from Sharp Healthcare this September, which led to a collaboration between Sharp and the Neighborhood House Senior Center to offer a drive-thru flu shot clinic at its facility. The clinic provided a quick, easy, and safe way for seniors to get vaccinated without going to a doctor’s office and risking exposure to others.

Earlier this year, SDSCF partnered with the United Way and U.S. Census Bureau to deliver training on how senior service providers can help their clients participate in the Census. One of the outcomes prompted by discussions in that meeting was for the local Census office to set aside a day for older people to call in and get help completing their Census forms.

This month, the San Diego Workforce Partnership joined our meeting to present its Aging Workforce Program, which offers paid “returnships” for older workers with local employers. The pilot program, which started with two senior centers, is expanding countywide, and senior center directors will play a crucial role in referring job seekers to it.

We also heard from Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello, who briefed the directors on elder abuse – a vastly underreported problem affecting one in 10 seniors with consequences that can be devastating. For every case that reaches law enforcement, 25 go unreported. Pirrello educated the group on common ways that scammers are taking advantage of older people and how the Elder Protection Council is working to stop this growing public health crisis.

These meetings have been increasingly valuable since the pandemic began, as senior centers face new challenges without ready-made solutions. The ability for directors to share ideas and tap into resources provided by other centers in our new virtual world has been hugely beneficial. Not to mention the moral support and camaraderie of going through a shared experience as we endure this tumultuous period together.

As a foundation, part of our mission is to raise awareness about issues affecting older San Diegans. The San Diego Senior Center Coalition offers a perfect example of this objective in action. We strive to be an advocate, thought-leader, and trusted partner in strengthening the region’s aging-support network. By bringing people together to share best practices and forge new partnerships, SDSCF is building a brighter future for San Diego, where every senior has someone they can turn to and trust.

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