Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Santa for Seniors

This week, we will host our annual Santa for Seniors Holiday Lunch. This is an opportunity for people to bring new, unwrapped gifts that will be delivered to seniors during the holidays.

Gift suggestions for seniors:

Alarm clocks with big numbers
Flashlights with batteries
Handkerchiefs or socks
Inexpensive CD players with CD’s
Hand or body cream
Items that are ergonomically designed like serving utensils or scissors
Magnifying glasses
Large print books
One size fits all robes
Personal fans
Packages of greeting cards
Reading lights that attach to books
Slip resistant cups, glasses and plates
Shave kits for men
Small throws and blankets
Writing pads with pens
Slippers that are slip resistant
Tote bags
Scarves and hats for men
Stress balls for hand exercises

Gift wrappers are needed Wednesday, December 16 and Thursday, December 17. Phone 404-604-8450 if you are willing to donate an hour of your time.

by Steve Hargrove
Director of Events and Marketing

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Senior Population Exploding!

My teenage son enjoys studying social sciences, and specifically projections about future trends in America. When I informed him that SCS delivers the equivalent yearly meals-on-wheels weight equal to 10 elephants, and that our volunteers’ annual delivery routes span the mileage of four trips around the equator, his curiosity peeked to learn more about seniors. So, we turned to for more insight, and found these:

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that beginning in 2011, the population 65 and older will grow faster than the total population in every single state.
In 2030, 10 states are projected to have more people 65 and older than under 18.

The implications for social policy, social services, social justice, and charitable support are staggering. We at SCS are involved in our 5-year planning cycle to address how we may remain responsive to these trends. With your help and support, we can be ready for a bright future of caring for our senior citizens.

By Brad Catherman
Vice President of Gift Planning

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hunger in America

Hunger in America has recently been spotlighted in media. While this tends to be the season that hunger is identified and promoted as a social concern, it is dramatically highlighted with data that looked at Georgia and the 10-County ARC region.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Georgia is ranked 13th in the nation when it comes to poverty levels, and 12.6% of Georgia’s senior population is living in poverty – that’s ranked 7th in the nation. Data from research on this project confirms that in Fulton County alone, 67% of seniors, age 65 and over are considered low-income, very low-income, or extremely low-income.

We often hear stories from clients who have to choose between spending their little amounts of income, some as low as $400 a month, on medication, utilities, insurance, or food. Oftentimes it is food that is cut out of their spending plan. With chronic diseases so many seniors have, eliminating food/nourishment is not the best plan of action.

Senior Citizen Services’ Meals On Wheels Atlanta program works to identify people and begin serving them with nutritious meals. The Urgent Meal program, a sub-program of Meals On Wheels Atlanta, strives to begin services to clients in dire need within 24 hours or less.

Meals On Wheels Atlanta has the capacity to serve more seniors in need but as always, we lack funding to support all who are in need. This causes us to have to rank in order of priority those who are in desperate need and those who can wait. Currently, we are serving 278 seniors – you can help us serve more.

During this holiday season, I ask that you consider giving a charitable monetary gift to SCS’ Meals On Wheels Atlanta program, or increase your annual gift. For a mere $150, one senior will receive meals for a month – join the ‘Fund a Month of Meals’ program. Contact us to learn more.

By Patrick O'Kane
Director of Operations

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Medicare Part D

Open enrollment for Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, runs through December 31st. Here are some questions to consider as seniors make their plan selections:
Have my health care needs changed?
What is the total cost of the plan, including premiums, deductibles, and co-pays?
Is prescription by-mail an option?
Can you go to any pharmacy?
Are all your medications covered?

Additional information can be found at or by calling 1-800-633-4227.

Plan ahead!

By Brad Catherman
Vice President of Gift Planning

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

United We Stand!

It is that time of year for many of us to listen to United Way representations as they make their annual appeal to organizations large and small across the country. The United Way has been a mainstay for decades, distributing local monies to charities of all sizes and missions. Senior Citizen Services is one such United Way agency, and our audited 2007-2008 annual report notes that we received $192,268 from this source, or 9.1% of our total funding. In fact, SCS was born out of the United Way in 1965. Did you know that you may direct a portion, or all, of your United Way contribution to Senior Citizen Services? Please ask your United Way representative, or your human resources department, for facts and forms to do this. Thank you for your consideration!

By Brad Catherman,
Vice President of Gift Planning

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Meal to Remember Raises Big Bucks

Last Friday, more than 300 guests gathered at the St. Regis Atlanta for the 22nd annual “A Meal to Remember.” The gala raised money for Meals On Wheels Atlanta and this year it raised more than $360,000.

A lot of time and effort goes into planning an event of this magnitude. Hopefully, by the time the guests arrive, everything runs smoothly and everyone has an enjoyable evening and doesn’t know about the “behind the scenes” problems that might occur.

Garnering the liquor license from the City of Atlanta is a feat unto itself. Dealing with last minute printing changes for the program can drive a person crazy. Discovering at 5:00 pm that every table is missing one place card is a problem. Ensuring that every auction item makes it to the hotel and gets placed with its appropriate sign and bid sheet takes an army of volunteers. Dealing with Atlanta traffic on a Friday evening makes guests, volunteers, and auctioneers run late. A flu epidemic forced some volunteers to stay home. A guest chef was “missing” the day before the event. Realizing on Friday afternoon that the sculptures for the guest chefs were never picked up and sending a staff member on a mad dash across town.

As you can see, a lot happens behind the scenes to ensure that our guests enjoy a fabulous gourmet meal paired with outstanding wines in a beautiful ballroom on a Friday night in November – all to make sure that seniors do not go hungry.

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Monday, October 5, 2009

City of Atlanta cuts 100% of Senior Citizen Services funding

My first job out of college was managing the Meals On Wheels Atlanta program, one of the programs that has lost the $30,000 it was granted last year from the City of Atlanta. Our Adult Day Care Center lost just as much. First, let me be clear: SCS has been very well managed financially and otherwise, and the base of funding is both broad and deep. Though the City of Atlanta is choosing not to support its senior citizens, we will not let them go. SCS will continue to be their safety net.

The reasoning for this decision is simply baffling to me. Is it possible that City staffers and elected officials are not as in touch with the dire needs of our neighbors? I lived in Atlanta for just seven years, four of those while in “the Emory bubble,” but the poverty that necessitates life-sustaining services is not foreign to me. I have walked up pathways to two-room homes housing eight people, wondering how the rundown shack was still considered safe to live in. I have delivered to apartment buildings where half of the roof had fallen in, resulting in an official condemnation. A few seniors were still living in the apartments that had most of their ceilings, because they had nowhere else to go. When I had trouble finding the building, I called the woman whose meal I was delivering. "You probably just passed it by," she said. "It doesn't look like anyone could live here, but we do."

Nearly 45 years ago, Mrs. S helped to found Senior Citizen Services. She has been coming to Adult Day Care every day for many years.

Our seniors have been good stewards of our communities, from raising families to building skyscrapers, and now is not the time to let them go. If the requested funding cut is approved

 54 seniors will not receive Meals On Wheels Atlanta services next year
 More than 9,300 meals will have to be cut from the program next year
 28 seniors who receive critical Alzheimer’s support will be affected by the cuts
 Seniors will lose more than 3,100 individual hours of support
 20 memory-challenged seniors will lose financial assistance for their daily care
 The cost burden will force many families to leave the program and deal with Alzheimer’s alone; families will be unable to maintain steady employment due to the added time required for elder care
 Both programs serve seniors who are very low income and without adequate support systems to remain in their living situations without services. This will force these senior clients and their families into homelessness and/or institutionalization.

- by Jaclyn Barbarow
Grants and Database Manager

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Give by Giving Back: Volunteerism

I had the privilege of joining a team of corporate volunteers at the home of Mrs. W. for an SCS HOMES (Home Owner Maintenance and Enhancement for Seniors) project. Mrs. W. is a 66 year-old retiree of the state government where she worked for 34 years. She lives alone in a home she purchased in the mid-1960s, now filled with great memories of raising her family. While the volunteers were painting, landscaping, and wrapping her pipes with winterizing material, she entertained us with stories about the growth and change of Atlanta. A walking encyclopedia of local history, she made each of us feel that Atlanta was more of a large neighborhood than an impersonal city of bricks and mortar. Her “payment” for the kindness that the volunteers showed her that day, she said, was her lifelong devotion to community volunteerism – that she will continue until she is no longer able. A very vibrant woman, Mrs. W. says she “pays back” by volunteering at community centers, a park, schools, and her church.

Do you know someone who has the inspiring spirit of Mrs. W.? Would you like to help volunteer at SCS? Please check our web site for a multitude of worthwhile opportunities. Thank you.

-- By Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift Planning

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Annual Meals On Wheels Atlanta Golf Tournament

Senior Citizen Services of Metropolitan Atlanta will hold its 9th Annual Meals On Wheels Atlanta Golf Tournament on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 at the historic Capital City Club at Crabapple. Last year’s tournament proceeds directly translated into nearly 17,000 meals for homebound and frail seniors in Atlanta.

Once again, this year’s tournament will feature the world-renowned Capital City Crabapple Golf Course, the oldest club in the city, tracing its origins back to 1883. The Crabapple golf course is a Tom Fazio design located on the county line between Cherokee and Fulton Counties. The 7,137-yard, par-72 layout has been the site of many tournaments including the American Express World Championship in which Tiger Woods was the eventual champion.

More than $93,000 has been raised so far this year. It’s not too late to register and play. Go to for more information.

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Laughter: the best medicine!

We often hear that “laughter is the best medicine.” While we wouldn’t argue with that statement from a common sense point of view, we now have growing scientific evidence that this is most certainly true. More than 70% of illnesses are related to stress including high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety, psychosomatic disorders, migraines, allergies, peptic ulcers -- the list goes on. When you are under stress, adrenalin is secreted, but when you laugh, the adrenalin level goes down and the cumulative effect of stress is minimized.

Modern studies on happiness (and laughing) reveal that happy people are more energetic, decisive, creative, social, trusting, loving, and responsive. Studies have revealed that children laugh over 300 times a day whereas adults laugh only 15 times. “Laugh and be well,” as the saying goes, is now a proven medical fact. When was the last time you had a good laugh?

By Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift Planning
Senior Citizen Services

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brain Boosters to Improve Memory

Recently I was pursuing through and found “7 Brain Boosters to Improve Memory” ( These ‘boosters’ are what we already know we need to do plus a few new ones.

(1) Physical Exercise such as walking can have great benefits and in a recent study, those who had a simple exercise routine out performed those who were couch potatoes.

(2) What We Eat also, diet is important with a ‘rainbow’ or fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidants.

(3) Exercising the Mind, just like the body, is important too. No ‘magic’ mind exercise has been found but researchers suggest it can be accomplished by working crosswords, word finds, computer challenge games, and the like. Even playing cards can help exercise the mine. In fact, in another article I read recently that focused on Bridge, and how memory loss was less with those who played a couple of times a week.

(4) Sleep… seven hours a night is the standard. Sleep is important for lowering stress levels and archiving memories.

(5) Red Wine, in moderation, in studies has been associated with the reduction of dementia. Researchers suggest one glass a day.

(6) No More Multitasking as it prevents the brain from encoding memories properly.

(7) New Memory Tricks can help you remember names and other details. Just like the long stand practice we’ve been taught, to associate the memory to something else, is still relevant.

As the author points out, it’s normal to have slight memory loss as we age. It is one thing to forget where we parked the car; yet a totally different problem if we forget that we own a car. So don’t panic when you catch yourself fighting for that memory – have a laugh and continue on enjoying life.

-- by Patrick O’Kane, Director of Operations

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Who Wants to Be Mayor?

This week, I listened to four of the Atlanta Mayoral candidates as they spoke to the Atlanta chapter of the Association of Professional Fundraisers. The participants were Lisa Borders, Mary Norwood, Kasim Reed, and Jesse Spikes.

They each bring a wealth of experience with them: work in the corporate world, the not-for-profit arena, politics on the state and local level, and a passion to make the City of Atlanta better. As they were speaking about the many challenges facing our city, I wondered why anyone would want the job of Mayor?

Because they were talking to a group who are mostly employed by nonprofits, the candidates spent a lot of time talking about how important nonprofits are to Atlanta. Georgia is home to more than 8000 nonprofits and Atlanta hosts the national headquarters of several national and international charities: Care, American Cancer Society, Habitat for Humanity, and many more.

The most glaring omission on the part of the panel was direct human services. For more than 40 years, Senior Citizen Services has been the safety net for older citizens “enabling seniors to enjoy a high quality of life, maintaining their independence and dignity.” We do that by providing home-delivered meals to frail seniors through our Meals On Wheels Atlanta program. We keep seniors in their own homes through our Home Repair Services program and through our Adult Day Care program. We give seniors an outlet for socialization through our eight Neighborhood Senior Centers. We provide transportation to shopping and medical appointments through our CareShare program.

The City can’t be all things for all people; nor can Senior Citizen Services. However, we know that each day we are helping many of our “seasoned saints” live fuller, richer, and safer lives in their own homes in Atlanta.

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scams on the Elderly: Beware!

Promises of instant wealth can be appealing to anyone of any age, but perhaps particularly so among the elderly. Individuals living on fixed incomes in an era of constantly rising cost of living can be particularly vulnerable. In 2002, the National Fraud Information Center estimated that the elderly were bilked by unscrupulous telemarketers for $40 billion for schemes such as prizes/sweepstakes, lottery clubs, and magazine sales. The Federal Trade Commission has uncovered and successfully prosecuted fraudulent companies’ claims of products marketed as treatments or cures for disease.

If you, or someone you know, may be wary of high-pressure tactics, or service claims that are “too good to be true,” please contact local authorities and professionals to verify these claims. Don’t be a victim, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help if you or someone you know has fallen prey to a scam.

-- By Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift Planning
Senior Citizen Services

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Responding to the Senior Boom

How do we respond to the growing senior boom in metro Atlanta? We respond through innovation, collaboration and engagement.

First, innovation is not often a word we use as much in aging services. But “doing things the way we’ve always done it” is unacceptable given the rising tide of the aging boom. I am proud of our team for providing innovative solutions this year to inadequate resources in Meals On Wheels Atlanta, for instance. The MOWA team increased its focus on volunteerism and has seen an increase in retention rates as a result. They also launched the Meals-In-Motion Pantry which provides donated canned foods to seniors who are appropriate for a grocery program instead of home delivered meals.

Collaboration is a buzz word we all love to use in nonprofit circles. I am proud, however, that SCS continues to work on collaborations, no matter how challenging the relationship. Our wellness collaboration with Visiting Nurse Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Emory’s Fuqua Center for Late Life Depression, and a number of other organizations has produced tangible health outcomes in the lives of our seniors. As the host agency for the Atlanta Home Repair Network, we are constantly working to ensure that senior homeowners who need repairs performed on their houses receive services from us or from other nonprofit providers that help in other parts of the City or in specific ways that we cannot.

Engagement is like collaboration, but in this sense I am more focused on the community at large. More and more individual donors are engaging in the mission of Senior Citizen Services because they appreciate the direct effect that their donations make on lives of seniors in need. Volunteers appreciate being utilized in an efficient and meaningful manner. Community organization, Universities and schools, churches and synagogues, neighborhood associations and civic clubs are welcomed partners because of SCS’ approach that is inclusive and honoring of the experiences of various neighborhoods and traditions.

So you can see that innovation, collaboration and engagement have been a key to our success and will continue to be vital as we seek to meet the needs of a dramatically growing population. We look forward to the challenge and invite each Atlantan to join in the mission!

-- by Jeff Smythe, Executive Director

Monday, July 27, 2009

Go for the Gold!

Are you competitive, want to meet new friends, and are age 50 or over? If so, then go for the gold this year at the Georgia Golden Olympics scheduled for September 23-26 in Warner Robins, GA. This annual competition includes 18 sports and more than 50 events including tennis, golf, swimming, track & field, cycling, bowling, ballroom dancing, horseshoes, billiards, archery, and much more.

The purpose of the games is to create an awareness of the abilities of older adults, to maintain and improve health and wellness, and to promote an interest in lifetime sports, recreation, and physical activity. This credo is aligned with Senior Citizen Services’ own mission statement to enable our seniors to enjoy a high quality of life while maintaining their independence and dignity.

Additional information about the Georgia Golden Olympics can be found on their web site at or by calling 770-867-3603.

-- by Brad Catherman, Vice President, Gift Planning, Senior Citizen Services

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Find friends, fitness and fun at a neighborhood senior center

If you are retired and haven't visited a neighborhood senior center, it's time you did. Senior centers are not a place where people sit around in rocking chairs. They are lively, fun-filled, and educational.

Neighborhood senior centers provide the services older adults need to be healthy, happy and as independent as they can be. More than 10 million Americans take part in activities through the 15,000 senior centers around the country.

What does a senior center have to offer you?

Senior centers offer a wide range of services and activities for older adults. At most senior centers, you can:

• Have a meal. No one likes to eat alone. The senior centers serve a low-cost or free noon meal where you can enjoy the company of others.
• Make friends. One of the main benefits of senior centers is the chance to connect with other people. Nine out of 10 seniors report that they've made close friendships at their senior center and that these friends are an important source of support and encouragement.
• Get fit. Fitness programs are a mainstay of senior centers. Staying strong and limber is important as you age. Many centers have a variety of fitness offerings, such as yoga, tai-chi and low-impact aerobics. Always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level or start a new exercise program.
• Take a class. Give yourself a new challenge or brush up old skills. You might learn how to use a computer, take a driver refresher course, learn folk dancing or take an arts and crafts class.
• Get a ride. Senior centers may offer a van service that can take you to the center, shopping or on field trips.
• Have fun. Many centers have recreation areas where you can play pool, have a bridge game or exercise. Senior centers host events such as holiday parties, casino nights and dances.
• Help out. You're never too old to be a volunteer. Volunteering is a way to share your experience and give back to your community. You might become a foster grandparent, knit hats for cancer patients or help others with the tax forms.
With all these opportunities waiting for you, why stay home alone?

How can I find my local senior center?

Check the Senior Citizen Services website at or phone 404-351-3889.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Atlanta a Great Place to Retire

The Atlanta Regional Commission has a Division on Aging that serves as Atlanta’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA). No matter where you live in the 50 states, you should be covered by a AAA that is responsible for implementing the services mandated by the Older Americans Act. We are fortunate that Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has a fantastic staff that is constantly reaching out to work with local nonprofit organizations like SCS to serve the needs of seniors better.

ARC completed a fascinating study of older adults in 2006 to supplement basic US Census information that is only collected every ten years. A few of the key findings include:

• A majority of older adults think the Atlanta region is a good place to retire (67%).
• Most older adults have been aging in place —living in the region an average of 37 years — and most hope to continue aging in place; 64% state that they would remain in their current home as long as they can.
• Even if they do move from their existing home, 52% plan to move to another home in the Atlanta region.

These key findings spotlight the challenging future of aging service organizations like Senior Citizen Services: more seniors are enjoying Atlanta for retirement; more seniors plan to age in place; more seniors plan to remain homeowners.

-- by Jeffrey Smythe, Executive Director

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Seniors Growing Bigger

With the new report out stating more Americans are obese than ever, the challenges in the future for individuals and the healthcare system are going to be daunting. And obesity rates among adults rose in 23 states over the past year, and no state experienced a significant decline. While the nation has long been bracing for a surge in Medicare as the boomers start turning 65, the new report makes clear that fat, not just age, will fuel much of those bills. In every state, the rate of obesity is higher among 55- to 64-year-olds — the oldest boomers — than among today's 65-and-beyond. Obesity is the leading cause for other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

SCS offers many options for seniors to help combat this national issue. Through the eight neighborhood senior centers, for example, participants may join in the health related classes: exercise, nutrition, and the Stanford Chronic Disease Self Management Program. This program, in particular, helps individuals learn how to better live with their chronic disease while offering solutions to combat it. Many of the participants have regained control of their diseases – many have been able to cease high blood pressure medicines and insulin (under their doctor’s orders).

-- by Patrick O'Kane, Director of Operations

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hot Time in the City

Summer has arrived and it is hot already!

Senior citizens and the chronically ill are often more vulnerable to the effects of high temperatures because they perspire less and are more likely to be taking medications that can impair the body's response to heat.

Those medications include antihistamines, heart drugs, over-the-counter sleeping pills, antidepressants, antipsychotics, major tranquilizers and some medications for Parkinson's disease. People should check with their doctor or pharmacist to find out if their medications make them more sensitive to heat.

Seniors on fixed incomes often do not have air conditioning or feel they cannot afford the expense of running it. Fulton County has several neighborhood senior centers that people can visit to avoid the heat. Check out our website for info.

Because many senior citizens live alone, everyone should check on elderly family members and neighbors regularly to be sure they are not suffering from the effects of the heat. If you suspect that someone is having health issues related to the heat, get them to a cooler place; keep them hydrated with water, and call 911.

-- by Steve Hargrove
Director of Events and Marketing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How are we doing?

My son thankfully finished his final exams of the school year. (And thankfully, passed all his courses!) He asked me about the kinds of questions that I receive on a daily basis at SCS, and then asked me if SCS has “passing” grades. This dialogue leads me to ask you, our readers and constituents: how are we doing?

On this web site, or by the conventional telephone(!), we are eager and ready to receive your feedback about how we’re doing to serve our various SCS stakeholders. So, here are some “final exam” questions for you as we approach the end of our 44th fiscal year on June 30th:

1. Do we communicate with you often enough about the happenings at SCS?
2. What do you like most about our web site, and how can we improve?
3. Have you volunteered with us recently, and what was your experience?
4. What senior services do you believe we should begin that we currently do not have?

Call or write with questions, comments, or our final marks from you! Thanks, and have a great summer.

- by Brad Catherman, Vice President for Gift Planning

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Pantry Program for Seniors – Meals in Motion

SCS is proud to announce the launch of a new sub-program of Meals On Wheels Atlanta – Meals in Motion, a food pantry program.

The objective of this program is to provide current Meals On Wheels Atlanta clients the choice to select the standard, nutritious prepared meals or if they have the capability to cook for themselves from the provided grocery bags of food for the week.

SCS will subsidize this program through the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB), but ACFB does not always have all the necessary types of food needed to sustain our program. Therefore, we will be reaching out to churches, other nonprofits, civic groups, and businesses to host Food Drives. (If interested in hosting a Food Drive, contact Yolanda Walker at 404-351-3889 ext. 250).

What a great way to get involved – simply host a Food Drive that benefits low-income seniors in Atlanta.

-- by Patrick O'Kane
Director of Operations

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chill Out

This month’s AARP magazine continues its ongoing series about decreasing one’s stress in these times of uncertainty. An unusual amount of stress, physical and/or emotional, has been shown to make the body more vulnerable to disease and many illnesses. Experts agree on these proven strategies for beating stress, and SCS wishes to share these with our readers:

1. Socialize: see friends, relatives; stay connected.
2. Let it out: talk, laugh, cry, get angry!
3. Exercise regularly.
4. Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
5. Add activities such as reading, playing music, and gardening to your daily schedule.
6. Gain perspective: remember past hardships that you’ve overcome.
7. Enjoy small escapes such as movies and TV.
8. Practice slow, deep breaths.
9. Try yoga or meditation.

The SCS mission is to enable seniors to enjoy a high quality of life, maintaining their independence and dignity. People of all ages can enjoy a higher quality of life with these tips.

By Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift Planning
Senior Citizen Services

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Older Americans Month is Full of Activities at SCS

Each year in May, America celebrates “Older Americans Month.” In this year’s proclamation, President Obama said:

Older Americans have carried our Nation through great challenges and triumphs. They have enriched our national character and strengthened the Republic for those who have followed. During the month of May, we pay tribute to the wisest among us.

Throughout the land, older Americans are strengthening our communities and the American way of life. Many senior citizens remain in the workforce to support themselves and their families. Others are embarking on second careers and exploring new interests and fields of knowledge. Inspiring citizens of all ages, many serve as advocates and volunteers in community service roles. In this important work, they make a real difference in the daily lives of fellow citizens of all ages, while promoting and strengthening the American spirit of civic participation.

On Saturday, April 25, more than 300 volunteers swept through Atlanta repairing seniors’ homes in our annual SWEEP! Day celebration. Participants cleaned up yards by raking leaves, mowing grass, trimming bushes, and picking up trash. Others painted the interior and exterior of homes for seniors who can’t do that work for themselves anymore. Some people cleaned up after a recent fire in a senior’s home.

On Sunday, May 3, each of our eight Neighborhood Senior Centers celebrated Friends & Family Day at their center. Guests for invited for an afternoon of fun and fellowship that included games, craft making, pictures, programs, and lunch.

On Saturday, May 16, SCS continues its celebration of Older Americans Month with our inaugural geneRACEtion 5K Run/Walk in Grant Park. Participants are invited to raise money for SCS and for Rainbows Georgia. Runners/walkers are still needed. Register at

Lastly, think about a senior that has influenced your life. Maybe that is a grandparent, a Sunday school teacher, a neighbor that fought in a war. Tell them how much you appreciate them during Older Americans Month.
-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Dream Team Is Up For the Challenge

As I look over our strategic goals set in 2005 during the organization’s first comprehensive Strategic Plan in more than a decade, I tend to focus on the more dramatic changes at Senior Citizen Services. Our financial stability, our diversified revenue development, our dramatic growth in volunteerism and program outputs (homes repaired, meals delivered, etc.).

What I don’t think I have done enough of, is praise our amazing staff for their gifts, increased attention to quality and trust, and passion for our mission. Don’t get me wrong, our donors and volunteers are our bread and butter; the board has raised the bar, our amazing committees and chairs are legendary in Atlanta, and where would we be without our seniors? But our staff deserves special attention.

Goal #1 of our Strategic Plan included the following objective:
1. Identify and implement strategies that raise the level of expertise of the staff team and the Board of Trustees
We recognized during the planning process that a staff that is passionate about their work and has the knowledge and training in their respective fields to be leaders that these factors would combine toward ensuring the organization has the capacity to grow.

How do we know we’re improving?

• We have more team members with specific experience and accomplishments in their fields than five years ago—Anne Foster, our New Horizons Center Manager, had been in critical positions and served on boards of other aging-related organizations before coming our way. Brad Catherman was a well established and well recognized Gift Planning Officer at Marist before coming to SCS.

• Team members complete more training objectives every year than ever before. Whether it is Neena Malone receiving intensive training from Meals On Wheels Association of America or Greg Davis becoming a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) for Home Repair Services, we continue to learn and implement best practices.
• Our collaborations have increased. Initiating the Home Repair Network or the Senior Centers Wellness Collaborative are two examples of how we convene experts and partners to strengthen our programming and knowledge. Partners get involved and stay involved when we have responsive and organized leadership involved.

These are a few examples of how vital our staff is in our service provision. Our team tends to recognize other stakeholders when it comes to praise—the volunteers, the seniors, the donors. Yes, these are vitally important constituents, but now more than ever we have the right team to meet the needs of Atlanta seniors going forward. They are capable. They are compassionate. They are dedicated. And they appreciate diversity within the team atmosphere.

Hats off to you, Team SCS, for raising the bar. You challenge me, impress me, support me, and push me and others to do everything we can for vulnerable seniors. You are the safety net—thank you for all you do.
- by Jeff Smythe, Executive Director

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We Appreciate Our Volunteers

The SCS family would like to thank ALL of our volunteers who have given of their time, energy, and money to ensure that seniors in Atlanta have enough food, have a secure and safe home, and have senior centers to attend.

Make sure to stop by and see Mary Hart, Volunteer Services Coordinator, for a token of our appreciation for all that you do. So many volunteers are repeat volunteers, coming back week after week, month after month -- so we could not do it without you.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of SCS and volunteerism is one of our core strategic goals. By leveraging volunteers' time and energy, we are able to control expenses and maintain a smaller staff. These savings translate into more services for seniors, more nutritious meals for their bodies, and more home repairs performed.

So, on behalf of all SCS employees and in honor of Volunteer Appreciation month . . . . Thank you, thank you, thank you to each volunteer.

by Patrick O'Kane
Director of Operations

Volunteer Appreciation Month

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monthly Giving Makes a Difference

Senior Citizen Services, like many nonprofits, are feeling the effects of a down economy. Donations are not coming in as frequently as they did in years past. Corporations are cutting back on sponsorships at events. However, SCS is not cutting back on our services.

As you can imagine, requests for our services are growing every day. We currently have a waitlist of nearly 60 people for our Meals On Wheels Atlanta program. Did you know that a $12 recurring monthly donation for a year provides one month of meals for a senior?

Please consider signing up for monthly giving on our website

Find 11 friends to join you in monthly giving at $12 per month and you’ve provided and year’s worth of meals for a senior. Thanks so much.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Great Moments

Great moments are born from great opportunity. That truism has been paraphrased throughout the ages by heads of state, military leaders, industrial visionaries, scientists, inventors, explorers, athletes, coaches, and their observing journalists. Greatness in this sense implies victory by overcoming adversity or simply persevering at just the right time, at the right place. The phrase is an expression of the best we can be.

But great moments are also to be found in seemingly small but no less important moments. Our many volunteers take action every day while serving our senior citizens, their payment being a smile and a kind word of thanks. Our kitchen staff meticulously prepares nutritious meals, following a process that is above standard, yet fulfilled out of pride of accomplishment. And once nourished, our senior clients extend the courtesy to those around them, seizing opportunities to make a difference in the community that they helped to shape.

Greatness lies in the ability to make a positive difference in another life – whether one or many. What opportunities can you turn into great moments for you and others?

Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift PlanningSenior Citizen Services

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Effective Nonprofit Strategies

This year, Senior Citizen Services was selected to present at the combined conferences of the National Council on Aging and the American Society on Aging. While we were one of more than one hundred presentations over the five day conference for more than 3,500 attendees, one of the highlights for me was a session entitled “Declining Resources: Nonprofits Zero In on Scope and Impact.” James Firman, President and CEO of National Council on Aging focused on five key strategies for aging-related nonprofits during the challenging economy. I would like to share his strategies here:

1. Believe in abundance, not scarcity: wealth = resources x technologyN
Nonprofits need to focus on diverse sources of income, including consumer disposable income, consumer assets, planned giving, Medicare and Medicaid, corporate giving, private foundations, other organizations (eg: collaboration), and older adults (eg: retiree leadership teams).

2. Know your hedgehog concept and live it!
This is based on Jim Collins’ Good To Great, where top performing companies knew what they were best at and focused completely on that core service or product. It is the intersection of what we are deeply passionate about, what drives our resource engine, and what we’re good at.

3. Get out of the business of providing programs and services and get into the business of producing and selling outcomes.

4. To raise funds, focus on the time of stakeholders and the brand—and the money should follow

5. Make surgical cuts, not across-the-board cuts. Stop the underperforming part of the organization, don’t slow everything down. Peter Drucker said that the largest mistake that nonprofit organizations make is their failure to abandon underperforming aspects of their mission.

In addition to James Firman’s key strategies, Serita Cox, Manager of Bridgespan, presented eight insights from experienced nonprofit leaders during the economic downturn:
1. Act quickly, not reactively; plan for contingencies
2. Protect your core competencies
3. Identify key people and keep them strong
4. Stay close to key funders
5. Shape up your organization—fitness time for nonprofits!
6. Involve your board again and again
7. Communicate openly and often
8. Know your cash flow—if you have to dip into reserves, try to restore them quickly

I figured for this month’s blog, these words of wisdom speak for themselves. We will learn from these experts, celebrate where we have already moved in their suggested directions, and push in the areas where needed.

by Jeffrey M. Smythe, Executive Director

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Saturday, April 25th will be a special day for many senior homeowners in Atlanta. You can get involved with SCS’ annual SWEEP! 2009 event and help to ensure the impact is strong. This event targets up to 10 seniors’ homes by having over 200 volunteers provide services such as painting (interior and exterior), yard clean-up and debris removal, gutter cleaning, and a whole host of other “maintenance” tasks that seniors have difficulty performing.

This is an excellent way to get your corporate group, church group, or any other group you may be involved with to help support those who have difficulty performing home maintenance. We, the “young’ens”, often don’t think twice about getting out in our yard and raking up the leaves or pine needles. But if you are in your 80s with a bad hip, this task is daunting. Through SWEEP! 2009, you can help not only improve the look of a seniors home but make an even bigger impact in the community.

You can be part of the solution – register for SWEEP! 2009 with your group or come as an individual… all hands are welcomed. You will enjoy a light breakfast prior to the work commencing and lunch in the park afterward. SCS staff and clients appreciate all who make this event happen – thank you.

by Patrick O’Kane
Director of Operations

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Running for Seniors

We are starting a new, spring event this year to raise funds for Senior Citizen Services. The geneRACEtion 5K Run/Walk will be held on Saturday morning, May 16, in Grant Park. May is Older Americans Month and the 5K is great way to get friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, out for a morning of light exercise.

We are co-hosting this event with Rainbows Georgia. Rainbows provides free grief counseling and support to children who have experienced a death or divorce in their family. This is a way to get to generations interacting with each other.

Planning any event takes lots of time and dedication from many people. We have a planning committee that conducts weekly conference calls to keep everyone on track and to check the progress of assigned tasks. We must get a special permit from the City of Atlanta to hold an event in a park. We must arrange for all kinds of little details such as a registration web page, brochures, drinks at the event, signage, security, port-a-potties, volunteers, publicity, post cards to promote our race, race timer, sponsors for the event – the list goes on and on.

We hope that many people will come out on race day to support the geneRACEtion 5K Run/Walk. For more information, go to and sign up to run, walk, and raise money for two deserving charities.

by Steve Hargrove

Director of Events and Marketing

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Year's Resolutions . . . One Day at a Time

As legend has it, Groundhog Day every February 2nd signals either the end or start of more wintry weather. As rumor has it, this day also signals the time when most of us have neglected or forgotten our New Year’s resolutions! One eighty-year old Meals On Wheels senior citizen of ours, Alice, has a better notion.

Alice informed me that she makes Daily Resolutions rather than annual ones. She relishes even little victories, and keeping a promise to one’s self is easier if the span is but 24 hours. However, she also likes to celebrate her small victories, which helps propel her to keep her promise to herself yet another day. A year of resolutions, one day at a time.

Alice reminds all of us that if goals and promises can be planned and met on a daily basis, then a lifetime of resolutions are ours for the taking. What goal is facing you in 2009 that appears to be too big? Take Alice’s advice and take the small steps necessary to achieve the mark before next Groundhog Day!

Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift Planning

Monday, January 26, 2009

$1 Million for Home Repairs

Senior Citizen Services (SCS) continues to touch the lives of many older adults in Atlanta. I am excited to share with everyone that SCS is the recipient of $1 million from the competitive grant process of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLB). This funding will allow SCS to perform major home repairs for seniors living in Fulton County; 90 project home sites will benefit from this award, all being low- or very low-income seniors.

The beautiful thing about this funding from FHLB is that it will allow seniors to stay in their own homes, living independently. As one ages, it becomes more difficult to keep up with home maintenance. When proper home maintenance is not performed, it leads more major repairs. SCS’ home repair team will work with the seniors to educated them and assist with maintenance plans.

It’s not just about coming in and performing home repairs, but ensuring that the senior can continue to live independently. The home repair team will assess each senior to see if they may need other services, such as Meals On Wheels Atlanta, or the may want to join in the fun at a senior center.

Touching the lives of seniors is not just about providing one service, but listening to them to see what other needs they may have. I’m proud that we, as a team, work to ensure everyone we touch has a good experience, and to refer them to other internal programs or external agencies when appropriate.

-- by Patrick O'Kane
Director of Operations

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Renewable Energy: Giving from the Heart!

Much is made these days about “renewable energy” sources. Essentially, energy which passes from one form to another, igniting motion again and again. I recently experienced the “renewable energy” of good feelings that can pass from one person to another, and back again.

A college fraternity brother and I organized a home repair project with some volunteer friends prior to the holidays. The home was owned by a wonderful senior woman who was grateful beyond words. Volunteers brought their youngsters who delighted in scraping, spackling, and painting. I asked one young man if he was having fun, and he said the best thing about the day was that “the lady who lived there gives great hugs… and as many as you want!” And the energy was passed back again.

Sure enough, I also experienced a warm, crushing, hug from the senior citizen whose inner energy of love and gratitude ignited a volunteer team. The experience remains one of the best gifts I received during the holiday season, and one which will keep on giving well into 2009 and beyond.

Happy New Year from the folks at SCS!

-- by Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift Planning

Monday, January 12, 2009

9 Ways to Help in '09

January brings an opportunity to set New Year’s Resolutions for the New Year. What are some common things we can all do to ensure that Senior Citizen Services remains the safety net for seniors that so many depend on?

1. Invest Time
Many people do not respond to the word “volunteer.” So, I invite you to make an investment of time—whatever that means to you—in the mission of Senior Citizen Services. This can mean delivering meals during your lunch hour once per month, giving a ride to a CareShare senior from time to time, or even organizing a group to complete a half-day HOMES home repair project once per year. There are opportunities for every age, every schedule, and every interest.

2. Share Resources
A donation of $35 helps SCS support a senior attending our Adult Day Center for Alzheimer’s/dementia. A donation of $142 supports a senior for an entire month of Meals On Wheels Atlanta nutrition. Donations of all amounts directly and tangibly translate into services that keep seniors in their homes and communities.

3. Advocate
Local government and the United Way are both constantly seeking feedback in terms of limited human services dollars. A letter or phone call can make all the difference—or better yet, join us at the State Capitol this winter to advocate for funding for seniors!

4. In-Kind really is Kind
Our organization benefits from a wealth of in-kind support. Donating your car for Meals On Wheels Atlanta, donating computer equipment, sewing equipment, copy machines, craft supplies, or even office supplies allow our organization to cut back on operating costs and maximize donations to direct services. Canned food is a growing need for SCS’ new Community Cupboard initiative. “Santa for Seniors” is also a creative way to provide small specific gifts that seniors need.

5. Talk to your Workplace and Worship-place
Workplace matching gifts, corporate giving programs, group volunteerism and workplace food drives are a few ways to engage your workplace in our mission. Places of worship can also make a dramatic impact in volunteerism, special offerings and food drives.

6. Will you?
Including SCS in your Will can ensure that SCS is supported for years to come—especially as Baby Boomers age and require more services than ever.

7. It takes a Committee
A Meal to Remember, SCS’ signature black-tie event, as well as our Golf Tournament, new GeneRACEtion 5K Run/Walk, SWEEP Home Repair event, and Senior Centers Open Houses all require committees of dedicated and resourceful individuals to make them happen.

8. Speak Up
Involving our organization in a speaking event at your favorite club, association, networking group or social group OR volunteering to speak on SCS’ behalf at one of these venues allows SCS to raise its visibility and engage more Atlantans in our mission.

9. E-help
Use GoodSearch when you go to your Internet browser, use Benevolink when you shop online, make sure SCS has your email address to communicate (cutting back on mailing costs) and forward our emails to your family and friends—easy ways to help out!

What did I miss? Surely you can add a few more creative ideas to the list—just email me at Thank you for entertaining these 9 simple resolutions that will build a better Atlanta for seniors in need.

-- by Jeff Smythe
Executive Director

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for Seniors -- and the rest of us!

Each year, many of us make New Year’s resolutions or set goals for the new year. I recently read an article with suggestions for seniors, but it sounds like many of the suggestions could apply to almost anyone.

What did the article suggest?

Visit a senior center. Senior centers are spread through out the Atlanta metro area. SCS manages eight of them. Visit our website for locations at Senior centers are not “just a bunch of old people.” The senior centers are alive with all sorts of activities including games, crafts, lectures, exercise classes, educational courses, special interest clubs, entertainment, travel, parties and dances and hot lunches. Involved seniors are alive and vibrant and in reasonably good health.

Plan to eat healthy meals. Make is a goal to eat at least one nutritious, healthy meal each day. Drive on by the drive through window. Avoid fast food. Invite a friend to eat a healthy meal with you.

Increase your social contacts. You can do this at a senior center, through volunteer activities, at a social club, church, synagogue or mosque.

Clean house. Go through and donate unused or unwanted items. Arrange to give them to family, friends or charity. Find someone who would like that item you have been saving for 50 years in case you ever need it again. Bite the bullet and get rid of it.

Get some exercise. Plan on a daily walk. Walk with a friend or engage a companion to walk with you. Senior centers offer exercise classes. If you don’t want to go out and can afford a treadmill, purchase one for your residence and set it up in front of a TV.

Engage your mind. Enroll in an adult education class. Many are short term and offer opportunities for a wide variety of interests. It is important to keep both body and mind fit. Regular mental stimulation will help you stay sharp, reduce memory loss, and some say, prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease. Start a new hobby (senior center can help); teach your hobby to another, perhaps a grandchild, join a book club or books-on-tape club.

These are all great ideas for seniors – and for all of us. Have a safe and happy new year!

-- by Steve Hargrove
Director of Events and Marketing