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

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