Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keeping Costs Low at SCS

The first time the term “overhead” was explained to me, I understood it as “the cost of keeping the lights on” and similar expenses. In other words, direct costs are those that go directly through the program and into the tummies, homes, and lives of seniors. Later, I learned that fundraising and administration costs are part of overhead as well. At SCS, we cultivate a culture of financial soundness, and creative methods are employed to maximize both efficiency and quality. For example, SCS minimizes fuel costs by varying the delivery schedule for Meals On Wheels Atlanta and planning HOMES projects close together. The effect on seniors is neutral, if not positive, and the money saved can be distributed to increase the number of older adults receiving supportive services.

Senior Citizen Services is proud to have only 15% overhead. Unless you work in resource development, that number probably means little. When you donate $20, we spend $17 on food, gas, lumber, tools, routing software, activity supplies, etc., that directly benefit our clients. We spend just $3 of that $20 donation to keep the lights on, cash checks, pay salaries, raise funds, and the like. By contrast, the federal government’s welfare program has a 95% overhead cost – only $1 of every $20 in the program’s budget goes directly to people in need.

Senior Citizen Services recognizes that our donors choose to support this organization because they care about seniors. Thanks to a forward-thinking mission and vision, our supporters can count on SCS being a safe place for their investment for many years to come.

—Jaclyn Barbarow

Monday, September 22, 2008

How We Help Seniors Keep Their Homes

Foreclosure—a common but unpleasant word in today’s rough housing market. Foreclosures seem to be the culprit for a great deal of our economic uncertainty as well. According to a study by AARP’s Public Policy Institute released September 18, 2008, “684,000 homeowners age 50 and over were either in foreclosure or delinquent on mortgage payments in the last six months…about 28% of all delinquencies and foreclosures[1].”

You and I may have thought that seniors were somewhat immune to this crisis—or at least minimally affected. More startling is that the seniors who are African American or Hispanic who are 50 and over “were disproportionately affected by the mortgage crisis when compared to whites[2].”

It makes me proud that we have a solution to such concerns for homeowners—our HOMES program (Home Owner Maintenance and Enhancements for Seniors). No, this is not the only solution, but when combined with other supportive services, could allow a senior to remain in his or her home.

Jerrell Saddler, Senior Citizen Services’ HOMES Manager, has successfully taken his team to record levels of repairs last month. From an average of 15 seniors helped per month one year ago, to thirty-one seniors helped per month in July to Augusts’ record-breaking fifty-three seniors helped, HOMES is touching more seniors than ever. Quantity and quality go hand-in-hand for this program, combining the passion of volunteers with the skill of four field technicians. Senior homeowners qualify for the program through homeownership, income level, and a number of other criteria, and seniors have an opportunity to donate back to the program in a variety of manners.

And soon senior homeowners who have incomes greater than 200% of the federal poverty level (current cut-off) will be able to benefit from this program. A special expansion pilot program is currently being tested with hopes that the services will be open to all seniors in 2009.
I am proud of our HOMES leadership, team and army of volunteers. Thank you for enabling seniors to enjoy a high quality of life, maintaining their independence and dignity.

[1] As quoted in Contra Costa Times according to the Associated Press; September 18, 2008;

[2] Contra Costa Times

Friday, September 5, 2008


Being very involved as I am in gift planning for SCS, I’m often asked honestly by SCS employees, volunteers, and donors about the “continuous, painful rejection” that such “selling” must encompass. Not at all, I reply, because I’m not raising money, I’m raising friends!

“Friend-raising” is really what non-profit “fund-raising” is all about. I’m simply a conduit between the needs of SCS’ senior citizens, and the passion to give that our donors possess. Providing an outlet for donors to help others is a gift in itself, and they repay the favor. My role in making friends that have an interest to enable our seniors to enjoy a high quality of life is a very gratifying one.

When donors thank SCS for the privilege of giving, and we thank them for their kindness, a long-lasting friendship is forged where everyone wins – including our appreciative senior citizens.

by Brad Catherman
Vice President of Gift Planning