Advocating For Seniors
Serving Seniors is best known to its clients and supporters for the services and activities it provides. Less well known is its involvement in the public policy arena as an advocate on behalf of seniors, especially low income seniors who struggle to secure adequate food, housing and medical care.
Protecting Senior Health Care
In March of 2017, a Town Hall Meeting was held at The Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center (GMWSWC) to protest congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) and replace it with legislation that would result in the loss of health insurance that 20 million low income Americans, many of them seniors, gained with the passage of the Act.
The gathering was addressed by Assembly Member Todd Gloria and representatives of the senior advocacy group Justice in Aging. Those in attendance were urged to contact California’s two Senators along with their district House Representative and urge them to oppose the current repeal efforts and any other proposals that would result in reducing health insurance coverage for low income seniors.
A group of seniors at GMWSWC exhibited signs with messages for display at public gatherings, major traffic intersections and major pedestrian thoroughfares.
Protecting Senior Nutritional Programs
In August of 2017, Serving Seniors participated along, with The National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) and Meals on Wheels America, in #Save Lunch, an advocacy campaign to secure ongoing funding for senior nutritional programs.
The Federal Budget proposed by the President Trump for the coming fiscal year eliminates $5 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program which provides federal funding for organizations involved in Community Development and/or anti-poverty efforts like Serving Seniors. While the impact of the proposed cuts on nutritional programs is uncertain, the magnitude of the proposed cuts is sufficient to arouse concern.
During lunch servings at GMWSWC in early August, senior clients were given paper plates on which they were asked to write messages about the importance of the facility’s meals program. Some of the messages were photographed and posted online with the hashtag #Save Lunch. On August 13, a delegation from the Civic Engagement Committee at GMWSWC delivered 400 paper plates with messages to Congressman Scott Peters and Congresswoman Susan Davis and encouraged them to vote and to encourage other members of Congress to vote to maintain funding for vital senior nutritional programs.
Educating and Mobilizing the Community
In June of 2017, The Civic Engagement Committee at GMWSWC launched the Senior Leader Development Institute (SLDI) to train seniors to address local civic organizations on the subject of senior poverty in San Diego County; the work of Serving Seniors in addressing the condition of low income seniors; and how members of the organizations being addressed can support the work by volunteering at Serving Seniors locations, making financial contributions and participating in the advocacy campaigns sponsored or endorsed by Serving Seniors.
Members of SLDI are given an outline of the points to be covered which they are encouraged to structure and develop into a personal presentation. Weekly meetings include seminars on Effective Presentations conducted by persons with professional public speaking backgrounds and practice sessions where individual members rehearse their presentations and receive feedback from other members of the group.