Several sponsors are onboard including Lake County Senior Centers, Calpine at The Geysers, Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association, Lake Transit Authority and the Lucerne Community Clinic. The group encourages other sponsors to help support the first annual Senior Summit.
“With 21% of our Lake County residents over the age of 65 and Senior Centers struggling to provide meals, basic services and a place for seniors to gather, it’s time to find a long term solution to the funding crisis our centers are facing and to think ahead to the needs of a growing senior citizenry,” said Steele.
“It takes $254,000 to run our annual operation,” said Lakeport Senior Center Director Jonathan Crooks. “We receive only 45% of what it costs to keep the basic operation going, the rest we have to make up by fund raising – and that’s an ongoing struggle.”
Joyce Overton, Executive Director of the Highlands Senior Center in Clearlake agreed. “We’ve begun a catering service to try to raise enough money to feed seniors in the Clearlake area. That’s a start but there are needs we know exist, especially for home-bound seniors, that we can’t touch because we lack the financial resources.”
All senior centers are facing the same issues, a lack of resources. In some locations, like Upper Lake and Cobb, there are no centers. That’s why Steele is also working on launching the “Silver Foundation” at the Senior Summit.
The goal of the non-profit foundation is to raise funds through grants, angel donations and trust fund endowments to help senior centers and related entities with funding for everything from food services, to new and expanded support programs, to facility maintenance. “The Silver Foundation will also be in charge of holding an annual Senior Summit so we can build on each years experience,” said Steele.
Steele’s vision is cohesive and effective senior center operations that provide support, increase the quality of elder life in all sectors of the county - including the unincorporated areas, cities and tribal lands - by bringing together agencies, volunteers, businesses and donors with the same goals. “Each center is independently operated and designed to fill the needs of their local communities. But the centers have one thing in common, insufficient resources, that’s where the Silver Foundation can help,” he said.
The April 1 event will kick off with a plenary session including keynote speaker, Prescott Cole, an attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform who will talk about predatory scams and elder abuse prevention. Prescott was the inspiration behind a key piece of legislation, the Senior Fraud Prevention Act of 2000 and other elder financial abuse prevention bills.
Other speakers will be on hand as well as a plethora of information booths and workshops on a wide array of subjects and services. More than 20 booths and workshops are scheduled covering topics such as non-profit Board training, health and nutrition, financial planning, home safety, emergency preparedness, Nordic Walking, Tai Chi and much more.
A key aspect of the Summit is training for current, new and prospective Board members. Local senior centers are governed by non-profit Boards who have responsibility for fund raising, budget, policy and planning, among other things. “We’re bringing in a professional trainer, Sue Haun, to conduct the workshop,” said Steele. “She is an experienced trainer with an extensive background in planning, non-profit board development, fundraising and volunteer recruitment; all important aspects of the work non-profits boards do.”
The idea is to help Boards prepare for the growing needs of senior citizens as well as to identify generational differences in senior populations and find ways that seniors can give back to others in need. “Senior citizens are diverse – some are homebound and need in-home support services while others want to stay active in their communities. The conference is designed to bring together seniors, service providers, volunteers, educators and anyone interested in helping to improve the quality of life for the large Lake County community of senior citizens,” Steele said.
In addition to the training, workshops and booths there will be time for some awards and fun. Several seniors from around the lake will receive special recognition from the event sponsors as well as from Assemblywoman Cecelia Aguire-Curry. Free play, courtesy of Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino and raffle prizes donated by local vendors and individuals will be issued at the end of the day.
Pre-registration for the summit is encouraged. A site has been set up for this purpose, www.lcseniors.net. The April 1st, 9 am – 5 pm event is free to seniors 60 and over and includes lunch. Non-seniors can attend for $5.00. The event welcomes anyone who wants to take part in improving the lives of Lake County seniors. For more information call 707-998-1302.