Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Greater Impact for Atlanta Seniors: Unchanging Support in these Changing Times

Last year we decided to provide more communications to you via email than via mail in an effort to reduce costs. We have done the same belt tightening that nearly every other business and household has had to do in our society. But I don’t want to utilize this column to bemoan the various challenges that our organization has endured by the difficult economy. Instead, I want you to know how grateful we are to you, our supporters and volunteers, for your unchanging support in these rapidly changing times.

You were there for our seniors last fall when our home repair storage unit was broken into at nearly the same time as rains and flooding wreaked havoc in so many seniors’ homes. Donations and fundraising from Knight Strikers and Iron Bred Motorcycle Club and St. Mark United Methodist Church enabled our Home Repair Services team to restore services almost immediately, replacing the stolen equipment and allowing seniors in desperate need of help to receive it.

You were there for our seniors when our signature black-tie event, A Meal To Remember, saw record-low corporate sponsorships. Under the leadership of Chairs Charlene Crusoe-Ingram and Marlene Alexander and Auction Chair Su So-Longman, corporate sponsorships were replaced by individual donations and auction participation. The loss of revenues by corporate sponsors was replaced by passionate individuals who could not bear to see seniors go hungry. Rather than maintaining keep even more seniors on waiting lists for meals, an increased number of seniors were able to receive the critical nutrition provided by Meals On Wheels Atlanta this year.

You were there for our seniors when volunteerism appeared to also be affected by the economy. With two more months of reporting left in the fiscal year, we have received more than 1,600 hours of additional volunteer support than last year’s 12 months! You are delivering meals, repairing homes, and helping seniors in our centers and in their homes in amazingly meaningful ways.

So I salute you and say a very heartfelt thank you to each of you SCS champions. You have told the world that seniors matter…period. You agree that it is unacceptable to leave seniors hungry, to leave seniors in cold or flooded homes, to leave seniors without the support they need to enjoy a high quality of life. We pledge to continue to make the most of every penny you contribute, of every minute you volunteer. And, we pledge not to rest until every senior in our great city is offered the same support and care that they offered to prior generations.

--by Jeff Smythe, Executive Director

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Volunteer for SWEEP! Keep a Senior in Her Home!

Mrs. Nash moved into her home in 1988 with her husband, two boys, and two girls. They were attracted to the northwest Atlanta neighborhood because it was mostly older people. She has lived in Atlanta for 42 years after moving from Griffin, GA. Elizabeth worked as a maid for the Georgia Building Authority until she retired in 1997.

She enjoys going to her church’s senior program and was formerly a client at Dogwood Neighborhood Senior Center.

Mrs. Nash is one of ten older home owners who will receive needed home repairs on Saturday, May 1st. Senior Citizen Services will hold its annual SWEEP! Day for their HOMES Program (Home Owner Maintenance and Enhancement for Seniors). The event will take place from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. SWEEP! is a focused, high-impact event celebrating Older Americans Month. On the morning of May 1st, a volunteer team will “sweep” through each sponsored home and perform improvements inside and out. Improvements will include painting (inside and out), yard maintenance, gutter cleaning, and minor carpentry. SWEEP! will target ten homes in this event and will host an after-party for volunteers, homeowners, their guests, and donors.

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feeling Older?

What does it mean to you to age? If you are 30 years old, you’ll have a different answer than someone who is 70. However, one truth remains for many individuals as they age, and that is: “I feel the same at 60 as I did at 20.”

I find this mindset interesting, because at my age, 43, I ‘feel the same’ as I did at 23; will it last? Yes, I have a few more aches when I over do it and I cannot stay up all night like I used to, but in my mind, I see myself and the world pretty much the same. And even though I’ve learned some (many) life lessons, I still seem to view myself in my mind’s-eye the same now as 20 years ago.

Before my grandmothers passed away, both stated similar statements – the mind thinks the same and the brain still ‘feels’ young, but the body sometimes doesn’t cooperate. One of my grandmothers was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was slow to progress. She complained when her leg started to drag (decrease of motor functionality) that all she wanted was for the mind to control her leg but ‘that darn leg won’t do what I want it to do’. Yet, until the tumor grew large enough to affect her thought patterns, she still stated she, in her mind, felt youthful.

On the other hand, there are individuals who state that they do in fact ‘feel old’. Is that a true thought or is that something they are feeling due to how their physical body is moving or feeling? Could this be a mind-over-matter issue? Do positive thoughts and outlooks help with this feeling-younger idea?

I don’t have the answers but I do know this from working with older adults – those who possess a positive outlook on life and are joyful tend to have, as they define it, happier lives. I think of Ms. B – she had so many physical ailments and one leg amputated, but she was the happiest person I knew. She greeted the world and everyone with a big smile and a hug. She would tell you a great story if you let her, filled with colorful characters. She is the type of ‘older person’ I want to be… happy with where I am regardless of what life has delivered. But, if I truly want to be like her, I will have to work hard on my storytelling.

-- by Patrick O'Kane, Director of Operations

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Volunteer to Help a Senior Stay in Her Home!

Alice moved into her home on October 7, 1965 in the Harwell Heights community of northwest Atlanta. She was a divorced, single mother who raised her daughter and cared for her elderly mother until her mother passed away at age 90. Alice is 78 years old and was born in Atlanta. After living in Chicago as a youngster, her family returned to Atlanta when she was 19. Alice is a retired nurse from the Dept. of the Army.

She worked at Fort McPherson until she retired in 1992. She enjoys working with her church and doing jail ministry at the Fulton County Jail with women. She also volunteers with a nursing home and attends a regular Bible study.

Alice needs assistance with yard work, gutter cleaning and repair, and fence repair.

Join us for Senior Citizen Services’ annual SWEEP! Day 2010. SWEEP! is a focused, high-impact event where hundreds of volunteers perform home maintenance and enhancement projects for seniors. Get out your paint brush and yard gloves for a special day of service in Atlanta. Great activity for groups! Lunch will be provided!

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Older Americans Month 2010 - Age Strong! Live Long!

May is Older Americans Month—a tradition dating back to 1963 to honor the legacies and ongoing contributions of older Americans and support them as they enter the next stage in life. Senior Citizen Services of Metropolitan Atlanta (SCS) is joining communities nationwide in celebrating this month with special activities and events.

Sunday, April 25, 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Friends & Family Day at Neighborhood Senior Centers

Saturday, May 1, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
SWEEP! Day, Home Repairs for ten Atlanta seniors
Volunteer Here!

Saturday, May 22, 8:15 am, Grant Park
geneRACEtion 10K and 2K Fun Run benefitting SCS and Kate’s Club
Register to participate here!

This year’s Older Americans Month theme—Age Strong! Live Long!—recognizes the diversity and vitality of today’s older Americans who span three generations. They have lived through wars and hard times, as well as periods of unprecedented prosperity. They pioneered new technologies in medicine, communications, and industry while spearheading a cultural revolution that won equal rights for minorities, women, and disabled Americans.

These remarkable achievements demonstrate the strength and character of older Americans, and underscore the debt of gratitude we owe to the generations that have given our society so much. But the contributions of older Americans are not only in the past.

Older Americans are living longer and are more active than ever before. And with the aging of the baby boomer generation—the largest in our nation’s history—America’s senior population is expected to number 71.5 million by 2030.

While keeping the growing population of older Americans healthy and active will increase the demand for senior services, what is remarkable is the extent to which older Americans themselves are supporting each other. As the new generations of seniors become better educated and more financially secure than their predecessors, they are spending more time making significant contributions in their communities through civic and volunteer opportunities.

In fact, older Americans are a core component of service delivery to seniors—embodying and modeling the drive to Age Strong! Live Long! They volunteer at group meal sites and deliver food to homebound seniors; they act as escorts and provide transportation for older adults who cannot drive; they help seniors with home repair, shopping and errands; and they provide vital counseling, information and referral services. Their energy and commitment reminds all Americans—not just senior citizens and their caregivers—to do their part to enhance the quality of life for older generations.

The annual commemoration of Older Americans Month is our opportunity to recognize the contributions of older citizens and join them in providing services and support that empower the elderly. Americans of all ages and backgrounds can volunteer with programs that improve health literacy, increase access to quality health services, offer food and nutrition services, provide financial and housing counseling, sponsor social activities and community engagement, and more. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging by visiting or calling 1-800-677-1116 to find out what you can do to strengthen services for older Americans, this month and all year round.

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

AAA – your road to successful living!

SCS provides many referrals a year to our collaborative partners in metro-Atlanta. Likewise, these agency partners share our name with seniors and their families when we can provide service. You are probably familiar with the roadside assistance company called AAA – well, here’s another AAA that is often a senior’s road to successful living:

Area Agency on Aging (AAA) - Created by the federal Older Americans Act (OAA) over three decades ago, AAA is often the county or regional department on aging. Some serve a whole state, others just one city, county or county area. The AAA addresses the concerns of older Americans age 60+ and their family caregivers at the local level. These agencies identify community and social service needs for older adults and administer the Family Caregiver Support Program, which provides respite assistance, support groups and other services for caregivers. To access your local AAA, contact the Eldercare Locator at: or (800) 677-1116.

-- by Brad Catherman, Vice President for Gift Planning

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Volunteer for SWEEP! Day 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010
8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Senior Citizen Services helps seniors repair and maintain their home when they can't do it for themselves. Senior Citizen Services handles maintenance and repairs on the homes of our senior clients that allow the individual to remain independently in their own homes.

Eloise moved into her home 42 years ago with her husband and three sons. They lived in an apartment until the opportunity became available to purchase a home in the English Avenue neighborhood. They loved the quiet neighborhood with lots of seniors when they moved in before all the apartments started going up around them in the 1970’s. Her husband passed away in 1991.

Eloise was born in Alabama and moved to Atlanta when she was 14 years old. She is now 79 years old and worked as a domestic worker her entire life until she retired in the 1970’s.

Join us for Senior Citizen Services’ annual SWEEP! Day 2010. SWEEP! is a focused, high-impact event where hundreds of volunteers perform home maintenance and enhancement projects for seniors. Get out your paint brush and yard gloves for a special day of service in Atlanta. Great activity for groups! Lunch will be provided!

To register, please visit and click on the “SWEEP” link.

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Creative Exercise for Older Adults

We all hear that we need to exercise; however, if you are not into going to the gym, there are alternatives.

While visiting my parents recently, I was shocked when my dad announced he was going out for his walk. At 70 years of age, I’ve never really seen him exercise. But since he has had knee surgery, he has had to ‘work’ his knee. So, off he went to the backyard.

Living on and acre and a quarter with a fenced backyard, he measured the distance between the fence posts and calculated every lap around the yard would equal part of a mile. He created a counter to know how many times he made it around the yard and is keeping track of his walking success on a notepad.

After he explained this to me, I asked why he had to large cans of yams next to his chair in the living room. “Those are my weights,” he explained. He uses them as ‘barbells’ to exercise his arms while watching Judge Judy (he loves that show). Accomplishing two things at once!

My encouragement to you is to find a creative way to exercise. There are many different ways that you may accomplish this – from walking around your yard or neighborhood, to using something that comfortably fits in your hand as a weight (try to find something that is five to ten pounds). Maybe it’s gardening or any other chore that gets you moving. But most importantly, document your exercise sessions to see how you can increase your workout. Start of slow and then increase your routine as the days and weeks go by.

Happy ‘creative’ exercising!

-- by Patrick O'Kane, Director of Operations