Thursday, January 27, 2011

Individual Givers More Important Than Ever

Thank you to every individual and family who donated to Senior Citizen Services last year.

The Georgia Center for Nonprofits held their annual economic outlook meeting yesterday at Bank of America. I was reminded, once again, of how important individual donors are to Senior Citizen Services. For 2009, 74% of charitable giving in the USA was done by individuals – not government grants and not corporations. If you add the family foundations into the mix, that figure jumps to 82%.

Like many other nonprofits, SCS is continuing to see a decline in government funding and funding from agencies like United Way. At the same time, we are seeing an increase demand for services as the baby boomers are joining the ranks of older adults.

Our goal for the next five years is to increase our client base by 42% -- an aggressive goal. We can only do this with increased individual giving.

So, once again, THANK YOU for your gifts that make our work possible and enable SCS to support senior independence through meals, shelter, education and community.

P.S. Please remember SCS in your wills and trusts.

-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fear and Loathing . . . but mostly Fear

have worked for Senior Citizen Services for more than four years, in a city that is nearly 500 miles from where my 82-year-old grandmother lives and 1,000 from where she grew up. The seniors we serve always seem so different than my grandmother. They’re widows like Gram, but they have often lived in their homes for decades. Gram moved to Florida, the eternal retirement state, five years ago because the property taxes were easier to handle than on the house she where she had raised her family in New Jersey. Many of our seniors have never driven or stopped driving years ago; Gram continues to drive, safely and legally, and is petrified of the day she is no longer able.

Yet, there are times when the similarities bowl me over. She is the only one of her siblings still alive, save a brother-in-law with severe dementia and a sister-in-law she hasn’t spoken to in years. Her best friend, a Holocaust survivor, died the day before my Gram arrived for a visit in September. Still it surprises me when I hear myself having a conversation with my mother that sounds so familiar. Last week, for example, I called Mom after work. She was in the grocery store with Gram, and as we talked (while Gram was in another aisle), she told me about the latest struggle.

Mom has a mother-in-law suite in her home that she rents out, and she has been looking for a new tenant for a few months. As she has several times before, she invited Gram to move in. She would have her own space, but they would be closer and Gram wouldn’t have to do so much on her own. My grandmother refuses this offer every time it is made, and after five years, the refusal is no longer polite. She wants her independence at whatever cost, even though the cost is already affecting her quality of life.

These days, making breakfast wipes her out until nearly dinnertime; she is likely to have toast for the former, cereal for the latter. When we ask about it, she says meat is too expensive these days. I suggested we sign Gram up for meals on wheels, and Mom instantly explained why that would never work. “She wouldn’t eat the kind of food; she never really has an appetite.” And yet these are the conversations we have with clients every day. “Add some garlic powder to the food – it’s a great replacement for salt; eat small high-nutrient meals throughout the day.”

With the job I have, I am already aware that it’s not easy to grow old, and it’s not easy to accept help. But I always feel that it’s a surmountable problem. We’re going on five years of Gram living near Mom, and four of my working with seniors. I haven’t found a solution yet, but I do know one thing. In 56 years, when I’m Gram’s age, or in 26 years, when I’m Mom’s, I’m pretty sure we’ll be having this conversation again.

-- by Jaclyn Barbarow, Grants and Database Manager

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Santa for Seniors

On December 7th, nearly 75 friends of Senior Citizen Services gathered with Santa Clause for lunch in Buckhead. Each guest brought a new, unwrapped gift for a senior to be delivered during the holidays. At the end of the luncheon, a mound of blankets, robes, hats, scarves, books, etc., were waiting to be gift wrapped.

Santa for Seniors exemplifies the spirit of Santa by providing volunteers the opportunity to purchase inexpensive “senior friendly” items such as magnifying glasses, neck pillows, throws, and many other gifts that can be given to lonely and homebound seniors on special occasions and especially during the holidays.

The week before Christmas brought several volunteers in to the SCS offices to wrap and label a gift for each senior Meals On Wheels Atlanta client. Volunteers enjoyed their festive time together with holiday music and snacks provided by Henri’s Bakery.

The gifts were delivered with meals on Christmas Eve. Many seniors do not have family in town and this visit from a friendly volunteer driver helped make their Christmas a little brighter.