A Special Story for #GivingTuesday

November 28, 2017 - Paul Downey


Today is #GivingTuesday, a global giving movement for generous individuals and organizations to support the causes they care about and the communities in which they live.

We have an ambitious goal of raising $25,000 to provide 10,000 meals for hungry seniors living in poverty.

I’m sharing a story, below, about one of those seniors: 70-year-old Bruce, who worked hard all his life only to end up homeless after a series of major health challenges. Please take a moment to read his story, and consider making a gift to Serving Seniors so that we can help more folks like Bruce. You can donate online quickly, easily and securely.

I deeply appreciate any support that you can give.

Thank you.

Paul Downey
President and CEO

How Bruce Regained His Dignity

For many of us, the holiday season means gathering with friends and family for feasting and gifts. It means vacations and visits and cozy fires in the hearth.

But imagine what the holidays would be like if you were homeless, had lost your family and friends, possessed only what you could carry, and were just trying to survive.

Sadly, that’s the reality for many of our elderly neighbors, like Bruce.

Bad Luck

Bruce, a Vietnam veteran originally from Cape Cod, was working as a building supervisor in a big upscale building in downtown San Diego. He loved his job and made a good salary. He could live comfortably and still put some money into his savings every month. He worked hard, cherishing his independence, never drinking or doing drugs, and counted himself fortunate. Until 2014, when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

While undergoing cancer treatment Bruce suffered a brain aneurysm and stroke, then a heart attack. He was hospitalized and unable to work, undergoing frequent surgeries and treatments. The savings he’d worked so hard to put away were depleted with astonishing speed. When he woke up, he found himself alone. Everyone he’d counted as a friend had disappeared.

Homeless at 67 Years Old

When he was finally released from the hospital, it was to the street. Bruce no longer had a job or a home to go to. He searched and searched for a place to lease with the little money he had left. He found nothing. He couldn’t afford to rent even the smallest, dingiest apartment or motel room. At 67 years old, Bruce was officially homeless.

Three years later and 70 years old, Bruce was still homeless and looking for something to do with his days. Coincidentally, he ran into a gentleman from his old building who recommended Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center as a starting place.

A Glimmer of Hope

Arriving at the Center, Bruce discovered that he could get a hot, nutritious meal, as well as receive help and access other services. Within a few weeks, he was paired with a Serving Seniors social worker and enrolled in our Transitional Housing Program for Homeless Seniors.

After months of hard work and perseverance, Bruce is back on his feet. He recently moved into his own apartment, no longer in need of the Transitional Housing Program. He is healthy and independent again and wants to go back to work. He’s justifiably proud of how far he’s come. He’s learned to believe in himself again.

“I’m so thankful to Serving Seniors for helping me obtain a clean, safe place to live, with a kitchen of my own. I had nothing, but now I have my life, my dignity back. I feel like a human being again.”

The Homelessness Epidemic

Unfortunately, Bruce’s story is not unique. The number of homeless seniors in San Diego increases every year, and will continue to do so. Thousands of our neighbors are living on Social Security incomes of less than $1,000 per month. Many are isolated and depressed – nearly half of them have to choose between rent and food, every single day. The majority of them will not celebrate the holidays with feasting or gifts.

They will be too busy trying to survive – to stay warm at night and dry if it rains – to celebrate the holidays at all.

We need your help more than ever in order to assist the growing number of seniors living in poverty in San Diego. We need to not only maintain, but increase, our Transitional Housing Program for Homeless Seniors, so that we can help deserving seniors like Bruce move off the street permanently. But we can’t do it without you.

Bruce's Journey

YOU Can Help Homeless Seniors Like Bruce

Your gift today will provide lifesaving food and shelter to homeless seniors this holiday season. Meeting these basic needs is often all the help they require to get back on their feet. These seniors want help. They want to be independent and self-sufficient and contribute to their community. They just need a helping hand. Will you help provide it for them?

I hope that you will make a gift and help eradicate homelessness, hunger, and isolation for San Diego’s seniors. Every contribution, however large or small, helps a senior in need. Together, we can continue helping seniors in poverty live healthy, fulfilling, independent lives.

Donate to Serving Seniors

We’re Thankful for YOU

November 21, 2017 - Paul Downey

Because of generous community and individual support, nearly 5,000 seniors received essential services over the past year, free of charge.

We could not provide essential services for nearly 5,000 seniors without your help, so in honor of Thanksgiving we asked a few of our clients what they’re most thankful for. They had lots of wonderful things to say about the programs and services that your support makes possible. Here’s what Joey said:

To our donors, volunteers, fellow advocates, partners, friends and supporters: Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Meal Drive

November 17, 2017 - Paul Downey

For many of us, the holiday season means gathering with friends and family for feasting and gifts. It means vacations and visits and cozy fires in the hearth.

But what if the only thing the holiday season brought you was aching hunger, cold hands and feet, and nights spent wondering whether you’d eat tomorrow? Hunger is an everyday problem in San Diego – our elderly neighbors are starving. Please help us feed them.

Food or Shelter?

Thousands of our senior neighbors are living on Social Security incomes of less than $1,000 per month. Many are isolated and depressed – nearly half of them have to choose between rent and food, every single day. The majority of them will not celebrate the holidays with feasting or gifts. They will be too busy trying to survive – to scrape together spare change for their next meal – to celebrate the holidays at all.

The most common reason that our senior neighbors come to us is to receive a meal. No one is ever turned away, and we serve nearly 2,000 meals to more than 800 seniors every single day of the year.

$2.50 Feeds a Hungry Senior

A single meal costs us $2.50 to prepare and serve to a senior in need. This holiday season we want to raise $25,000, which will provide 10,000 senior meals. In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, which is quickly approaching, I’m asking you to make a donation to help us feed our senior clients. Your gift today will ensure that low-income seniors will have lifesaving food this holiday season.

I hope that you will help eradicate hunger for San Diego’s seniors this #GivingTuesday. Every contribution, however large or small, helps a senior in need.

With gratitude,

Paul Downey
President and CEO, Serving Seniors

Additional Ways to Support Serving Seniors:

For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, 0.5% of the purchase price is donated to the customer’s selected charitable organization. To begin shopping with Serving Seniors as your charity of choice, click here.

Double your donation with matching funds from your employer. Check with your HR department for information on your company’s matching gift programs. Employer matching gifts may also be available to you if you are the spouse of an employee whose company participates in matching gifts.

Options for including Serving Seniors in your estate or financial planning include: securities transfers, IRA rollovers, endowment gifts, bequests/estates, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, gifts of real estate, gifts of retirement assets, gifts of stock, gifts through a will or trust, and more. More Info

Recurring donations are the best way to provide steady support. Use our secure online form to become a monthly donor, and you’ll ensure we have the resources to provide seniors with the support network they deserve. More Info

Are you a member of Thrivent Financial? Make Serving Seniors the beneficiary of you Thrivent Choice dollars. Learn More

View Our Wish List

Honoring Our Veterans

November 14, 2017 - Paul Downey

On Friday, November 10, 2017, Serving Seniors held a very special Veterans Day celebration to honor our veterans and their spouses. We welcomed two Girl Scout troops, six active duty Navy representatives, a Navy Captain, five WWII veterans, dozens of veterans from the Vietnam, Korean and Gulf wars, some peace-time veterans, the Serving Seniors Singers and local media.

Special Guests

Girl Scout Troops 4344 and 4823 led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and thanked our veterans, then the Serving Seniors Singers performed “America the Beautiful.”

Paul Downey, President and CEO of Serving Seniors, and Captain Brien W. Dickson, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Point Loma, delivered remarks honoring and thanking our veterans. Mr. Downey shared a poignant first-hand experience of coincidentally meeting a WWII veteran at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during his travels in France a few years ago.

We honored all the veterans present by playing the “Salute to the Services” and asking them to stand for applause during their service branch’s song. The veterans were also presented with hand-made thank-yous from the Girl Scouts, and certificates of appreciation from Serving Seniors.

“They Deserve Our Gratitude 365 Days a Year”

Paul Downey summed up the cause for celebration and suggested we honor our veterans by treating all people with dignity and respect:

“Nearly 25% of our clients at Serving Seniors are veterans. They are diverse in their backgrounds, cultures and walks of life, but they have at least one thing in common: they all answered the call to be part of something bigger than themselves, which transformed them from ordinary to extraordinary citizens.”

“Let us honor them today, and every day, by upholding the admirable American values they fought, and died, to defend: liberty, equality, individualism, diversity and unity. Let us honor their service by treating all people with dignity and respect, even when we disagree with them. Let us show our gratitude to our veterans by remembering, respecting and appreciating the bold ideals that this country was built on, that they defended, and treating each other accordingly.”

“As They Served Our Nation and All of Us, Let Us Now Serve Them”

When the formal program concluded the veterans and Captain Dickson came forward to cut the ceremonial cake, then the Navy representatives and Girl Scouts served lunch. There were smiles all around and it was a beautiful, meaningful event – thank you to everyone who came out to honor our veterans with us!

View all the photos from the celebration on Facebook >







We’d like to thank Balloon Guru for generously donating the balloons!

Keep Your Lungs Healthy

November 3, 2017 - Paul Downey

This guest post is courtesy of E. Walsh, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

We want to help seniors in San Diego stay safe and healthy as cold and flu season approaches. Most people don’t think about their lungs until a problem develops, and by age 80 the average person has taken 672,768,000 breaths. All day every day your lungs work hard to keep your blood full of oxygen and your body healthy.

Here are some tips to help you and your lungs stay healthy this flu season:

Get a Flu Shot

It’s easy to underestimate the seriousness of the flu, but it’s also dangerous: 50% of people hospitalized with the flu are over age 65, and virtually all flu-related deaths occur among older individuals. This is unfortunate and preventable with an annual shot of the flu vaccine.

Flu shots are available in many places around San Diego. You can go to your pharmacy, make an appointment with your primary care provider, or visit a health clinic. Best of all, the flu shot is a benefit covered by Medicare, so there is no cost to you. Set up an appointment today and protect yourself against the flu.

Where to get a flu shot in San Diego.

Schedule a Medical Screening

Visiting a healthcare provider can be an anxiety-inducing experience — no one wants to receive bad news. You might also be worried about the cost, but we’re here to help.

Serving Seniors’ team at our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center can connect you with a caring nurse who can help prepare you for what to expect during your appointment, and who can help you understand any results you receive after an exam. If you need assistance with Medicare or Medi-Cal we can connect you with a healthcare advocate.

We can also help you find low-cost or no-cost access to healthcare — it’s important to get regular access to the care you need to make sure your lungs are working properly. Tell your healthcare professional about any history of illness including asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, lung cancer or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Have a Clean, Safe Place to Live

Many respiratory illnesses start where you’re living. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can watch out for, to stay safe. Beware of what you’re breathing into your body, especially when it comes to dust, mold and asbestos.

Dust comes from a number of sources, including human and animal hair, pollen from plants, soil and other materials. Dust particles can be trapped in furniture, carpets, curtains, bedding and other surfaces. Regular cleaning and vacuuming helps reduce dust. You might also consider an air filter for your home.

Mold is another common hazard. It develops naturally in moist locations such as bathrooms, basements and any place where water collects. In some cases mold can make you very sick, especially if you have asthma or allergies. Regularly check your home and yard for standing water, leaks or drips and signs of mold growth. Fix leaks immediately and ensure that any water in your yard can quickly drain away from your home.

Asbestos is common in construction materials used in older buildings and homes, but is relatively safe when left alone and intact. However, when products containing the mineral are broken or damaged, asbestos fibers can become airborne, causing accidental exposure through inhalation. Over time, this can cause mesothelioma cancer. Asbestos can be found in a number of areas and construction materials, including basements, flooring, and walls. Never begin renovation without first having a professional assess the building materials of your home.

It’s extremely important to have a safe place to live. If you need more information about affordable housing options, please contact us.

Take Action

It can be easy to do nothing, but when it comes to flu prevention, medical screenings and a safe place to live, we can help. Take action and take care of yourself — you’ll gain peace of mind and be glad you did.

Meet The Bloggers