Santa Barbara, Ca., November 24, 2020: The sparkle in their eyes, says it all, “Thank you for being there for us.”
It is certainly no understatement that this year has been like no other. Serving low- income seniors has always been our focus but at no time in our 31year history has our commitment to this population been more challenging. The pandemic has hit our seniors in powerful ways. Having been told to shelter in place is daunting at any age. With so many of our seniors relying on caregivers, families and friends, too many have become traumatized due to this isolation.
We realized early on that seniors’ ability to meet basic needs would be threatened. To meet this crisis, we expanded our mission and became food providers. These headlines will tell you how we do it.
March 20, 2020- The Covid 19 Pandemic Becomes a Nationwide Emergency
We held our first meeting on this date to strategize how to respond to this crisis. Within 3 days we joined a countywide non-profit collaborative to develop ways to get groceries and household supplies to home bound seniors. We took the lead in the Santa Barbara-Goleta area.
March 24, 2020- CSA makes it first grocery distribution.
With funding from the consortium, we swung into action. We set up a system for enrolling people in a food/household goods distribution network where volunteers and staff delivered fresh produce, groceries, paper goods and other household necessities to 50 low income seniors. Within a few months that number grew to 132 for CSA and county wide over 2,000.
May 25, 2020. Many seniors need hot meals not just groceries
The success of the grocery program also brought more serious needs to our attention. We discovered that many seniors due to physical or cognitive limitations were unable to fix meals or cook for themselves. We were able to secure federal funding and local financial support to begin a five day a week Hot Meal Program. In the first 5 days, after interviewing each applicant, we discovered that over 100 seniors were either financially or physically disable and needed a hot meal. It was shocking and disheartening to learn how many of them were eating food out of a can!
May 29, 2020- CSA Makes Hot Meals Delivery to 103 seniors
On its first day, the staff delivered over 100 Hot Meals (8 routes) in the greater Santa Barbara area. Thanks to Pascucci’s we were able to offer a gourmet, nutritious entree, salad/ vegetable, fruit, bread and milk 5 days a week. This was the time where we saw the sparkle in their eye. Many said they could not thank us enough for this help!
October 11, 2020-Demand for the Hot Meals Program Grows to over 120 seniors
Over the summer, seniors with desperate needs came forward and our numbers grew to over 120 people. With no end in sight, many more seniors have come forward needing help meeting their nutritional needs. We continue to seek funding to help those on the waiting list.
For CSA to serve 130 seniors 5 Hot Meals per week, it takes a great team which CSA’s Hot Meals Program Coordinator, Aaron Linker oversees. Our dedicated drivers are; Aaron Linker, Scott Otto, Saul Nadis, Josh Kaas, Jacqueline Capra, Dan Feinberg and Karen Mulhollen
November 9, 2020. The future is bright for many Santa Barbara seniors and very busy for CSA. How do we intend to do all of that?
Along with the Hot Meals program, the Center for Successful Aging continues to offer its regular programming of Senior Peer Counseling, the CareLine Telephone Reassurance Program, Real Help and its newspaper “Successful Aging”.
In mid-October, the Center hired a new half time Executive Director, Lindsay McGrail and its former E.D., Gary Linker became the half time Clinical Director. We are ready to embark on a capacity building initiative in 2021 to create a more sustainable operation to support the growing demands of low-income seniors and the much-needed expansion of services as COVID continues to plague us.
More than ever we need your support, especially since there is no funding for the Hot Meals Program for 2021. Please consider a generous donation at this time of giving, so we may continue to give seniors in our community hope for a better day and keep the sparkle in their eyes. You may go online at csasb.org to make your donation.