Thank you!

October 22, 2018 - Serving Seniors

Our CEO Paul Downey wanted to take the time to personally thank each and every one of our supporters. Without your help, we wouldn’t be able to continue our mission of changing the lives of low-income and homeless seniors in San Diego County. We appreciate you!

A Senior Center Unlike Any Other

September 21, 2018 - Serving Seniors

September is National Senior Center Month, a time to celebrate the thousands of institutions countrywide that are like a second home to our nation’s older adults—institutions like Serving Seniors’ Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center.

Redefining the Senior Center

When we think about senior centers, we often think of congregate lunches, bingo, and socialization. However, Serving Seniors’ Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center (GMWSWC) was built on the idea that a senior center can be so much more.

Opened in 2010, our GMWSWC is unlike any other senior center in the United States. This innovative, leading-edge facility not only provides two servings of breakfast and three servings of lunch daily, but offers two floors of coordinated resources designed to keep seniors healthy and living independently in their homes for as long as possible.

The GMWSWC offers social services, nurses, health education, housing assistance for homeless seniors, and a range of activities that go far bar beyond bingo. Each year, Serving Seniors offers more than 850 classes and activities such as Feeling Fit Club, tai chi, travel and culture classes, healthy cooking demonstrations, talent competitions, games, arts and crafts, and a daily walking group. Our Cyber Café offers free computer and printing facilities, and volunteer students from High Tech High frequently come and assist our seniors in using the computers.

Our Collaborative Model

In addition to the wraparound services and resources provided on-site, our GMWSWC is unique thanks to its collaborative model, with more than 25 collaborative partners providing services on-site at the GMWSWC each month. Our partners include California Western School of Law, which provides law students offering legal advice; Sharp Health, which provides a Psychiatric Nurse offering mental health services and group counseling; and many more.

The GMWSWC is also the official home of the Gary & Mary West Senior Dental Center, a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing free and affordable dental services to low-income seniors. Our clinical team of nurses, case managers, and care navigators works closely with the Dental Center to provide access to oral health services and meet the wraparound health and wellness needs of clients receiving dental care.

Celebrate Good Times

The GMWSWC isn’t all about services and meals. We also like to celebrate our clients and show them how special they are to us. Every month, we partner with corporate groups and individuals to host social activities, holiday parties, and even a Senior Birthday Party for all of the seniors celebrating a birthday in that month, complete with cake, punch, and gifts. These celebrations are key to promoting socialization, building connections between seniors, and recognizing the worth of older adults who often do not have any children or family—no one to celebrate their special day.

Our senior center is special because when a senior walks through our doors, they not only have opportunities to make new friends and socialize with old ones, but they have access to a range of comprehensive wraparound services. Serving Seniors is the only organization in San Diego County—and one of the few in the country—offering such a broad base of services to this vulnerable population, let alone under one roof.

Visit Us

The Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center is located at 1525 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101, and is open 365 days a year from 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The GMWSWC is accessible to all seniors aged 60 and older.

In honor of National Senior Center Month, please consider making a donation in support of our services or sponsoring a social activity at the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center.

For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Luke Dumas at (619) 487-0746 or



National Nutrition Month: Go Further with Food

March 27, 2018 - Paul Downey

Whether it was via a pyramid or plate diagram, most of us were taught that we should “eat the rainbow” every day in order to get the recommended daily amounts of vitamins, minerals and health benefits from our food. And most of us take for granted that we have easy access to fresh produce and balanced meals. We have options. We don’t think twice about the food choices at our fingertips.

Now imagine if you were living on just a few dollars a day. Would fresh produce or balanced meals be at the top of your list of concerns? Probably not. You’d likely be more worried about paying rent, affording medications, maybe getting to and from work or appointments. That’s the reality that many of our senior clients are living. Many of them can’t afford fresh foods or balanced meals. Our senior clients’ income, mostly in the form of Social Security, averages $950/month.

Access and Affordability

According to the Elder Index, developed by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, a single senior in San Diego needs an income of $1,974/month to afford basic rent, food, health costs and transportation. By this calculation, 41% of San Diego seniors live below the Elder Index. With a population of 202,413 adults aged 62 above, San Diego is home to nearly 83,000 seniors who have to choose between paying rent and purchasing food every day.

With limited access to nutritious food, most seniors initially arrive at Serving Seniors suffering from malnourishment or chronic health conditions related to poor nutrition, including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Health concerns, especially prolonged issues, reduce seniors’ quality of life and drive already-poor seniors even deeper into poverty, increasing their reliance on community-funded programs, as most are single or widowed with little or no familial support.

Helping Seniors Stay Healthy, One Meal at a Time

Fortunately, many of the chronic diseases older adults face are preventable through healthy eating. Since its founding in 1970, Serving Seniors has served more than 11 million nutritious meals, developed in partnership with a registered nutritionist and optimized for the nutritional needs of older adults, and has seen first-hand the beneficial effects of reliable access to healthy food. Between nine congregate dining sites and delivering daily meals to 500 homebound seniors, we serve nearly 2,000 meals daily, every day of the year.

The meals we serve accommodate a variety of dietary needs, including low-sodium and low-fat diets, and are often the only source of food for San Diego seniors who would otherwise go hungry. And the benefits of a healthy diet are profound: increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, faster recuperation after illness and medical procedures, higher energy levels and more.

So Much More Than Meals

Serving Seniors’ nutrition program provides much more than food and senior-specific nutrition education – it brings seniors, most of whom live alone, together for camaraderie. This socialization is invaluable to our clients. In almost every case, our seniors tell us that they keep coming to our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center for the companionship as much as the meals, and that the combination of friendship and healthy food has helped them remain healthy, active and independent. They join walking and hobby groups, take fitness classes, attend cooking demonstrations, play games, learn how to use computers and much more.

You (and Your Taxes) Benefit From Healthy Senior Neighbors, Too

Healthy people use fewer expensive public resources, such as ambulance transport and emergency room care. According to American Medical Response San Diego, the cost of an ambulance transport is about $1,800; Medicare pays only about $434 and Medi-Cal pays only $118. For roughly the same cost as an ambulance ride, Serving Seniors can feed a senior for an entire year. When nutritious food has been proven to be as important as medicine, especially for older adults, it makes financial sense to help our elder neighbors stay healthy in the first place. After all, as a supremely wise man once said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, please consider supporting Serving Seniors’ nutrition program.

Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future

March 5, 2018 - Paul Downey

You and a guest are cordially invited to

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 • 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Reception at 5:30 p.m. • Program at 6:15 p.m.

Serving Seniors’ Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center
1525 Fourth Avenue • San Diego, CA 92101

Please join us for a special evening! Serving Seniors’ President & CEO, Paul Downey, will give an update on the organization’s accomplishments over the past year, a panel of experts will discuss the future of aging well and what that means for you, plus we’ll hear directly from one of our senior clients on how our services changed their life.

There is no cost to attend but seating is limited and reservations are required.
Please RSVP by Friday, March 16 to 619.487.0701 or

Age is Not a Barrier to Learning

February 23, 2018 - Paul Downey

This guest post is courtesy of Karen Weeks,

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; well, it’s a good thing you don’t walk on all fours! And despite the preconceived notion that older adults can’t learn new skills, science says otherwise. So, if you’re over 65 and want to play the guitar, do the tango, or delve into the inner workings of technology, the only thing stopping you is… you.

From the Comfort of Home

When you want to learn something new, look no further than your PC, phone, or tablet. We’ve yet to find a skill that isn’t taught online. This means you can get down with modern dance from the privacy of your closed-curtain living room if that’s what you want. Or grab a group of your favorite folks and practice the downward dog right from your TV. Xfinity and many other major cable providers offer free or paid access to fitness classes On Demand.

Here are a few suggestions of the many different things you can learn from home:

Automobile History

Even if you’re already an enthusiast, this fascinating lecture collection from Stanford will give you a better understanding of how automobiles have shaped and been shaped by the last century.


Brought to you by Yale University, this YouTube course, which was first recorded in 2008 but continues to be a popular topic for students, will help you attain a deeper understanding of financial institutions and their role in civilized society.

Science and Food

You’ve probably never thought of your time in the kitchen as a science experiment but it is. This Harvard University video playlist will teach you what you need to know about the science behind everything from cheese to risotto to which culinary thickening agents are best for different cooking conditions.


The Open Learning Initiative, sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, offers open courses in languages including Arabic, French, Chinese, and Spanish. At time of publication, Elementary French I offers a free sample class with the option to upgrade for $10 to a self-guided independent learner full course.


Equipboard, an online community centered on the tools and gear used by professional artists and industry influencers, notes that music education doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The best online guitar lessons, according to the site, range from free to just over $30 per month.

Computer Programming

If you want to know what all the fuss is about where technology is concerned, consider taking an entry-level web or app coding class. LinkedIn is a great resource for developer courses and offers a free month trial and unlimited access to more than 6,000 courses for $25 per month.

First Aid

Having the crucial skills to offer assistance in case of an emergency is important for people of all ages. The American Red Cross offers online first-aid classes that will help you help your friends and family until first responders arrived.


Maybe you’re already a knitter and want to learn how to dye your own yarn, or maybe you’ve never picked up a needle before. Either way, has you covered with classes ranging from $10-$60. In the course of a day, you can learn to knit your own socks or create stunning designs to flatter any figure.

It doesn’t matter what you want to learn — there is a class for you just waiting on the World Wide Web. You don’t have to have extensive technical knowledge or a huge budget, but you do need a willingness to learn, the desire to better yourself, and occasionally, the patience to put up with a slow internet connection.

About Karen:

We’re never too old to learn a new skill. And I’m living proof of that! After I retired, I decided to learn how to design websites and created It’s certainly a work in progress, but it reminded me how fun and gratifying it can be to learn a new skill. Now, I’m hoping to spread the word. Winter, when it’s more difficult for many of us older folks to get out and about, is a great time to start learning a new skill, whether it’s online or with a group of friends.

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