Tempe Community Action Agency coordinates three Senior Centers: Escalante and North Tempe in the City of Tempe, and Granite Reef in the City of Scottsdale.
Programs offered through the Centers include:
- Lunch program
- Referrals to Benefits Assistance
- AmeriCorps Health & Wellness program
- Cooking demonstrations
- Recreation and exercise
- Social events
Socialization among seniors is so important! This past quarter, we have had several seniors come to the center to “try it out.” Upon their arrival, our senior leader makes sure that they are introduced to some of our regular participants. The seniors encourage the new folks to come to exercise classes as well as the food demonstrations and lunch. After a few weeks, the new participants have expressed how much fun they are having and are no longer depressed. At one of our centers, there now is a group of six men that insist on sitting together at a table for lunch that really is made for four people. They have been nicknamed “The Board.” They all share stories from the past as well as discuss current events. Sometimes they linger for quite some time after the program activities conclude because they are enjoying each other’s company so much.
Our Senior Programs are constantly growing…
TCAA introduced a “Coffee and Treats” program which successfully increased senior participation. TCAA staff found through surveying senior clients that they usually do not eat a healthy breakfast on a regular basis. Since introducing Coffee and Treats, senior clients now have access to a healthy morning (light) meal and are feeling better as a result. Besides the nutritional value of the food, the seniors are enjoying the company of one another. At least 50 – 60% of them live alone which means that they usually eat by themselves. It is very rewarding to see the new friendships form. There are participants who attend this activity now who never interacted with other seniors prior to their involvement. Their participation in the morning activity is leading to increased involvement in other senior program activities as well.
We were approached by the City of Scottsdale staff regarding an elderly gentleman who wanted to volunteer. We were told that he had tried other volunteer programs and they weren’t the right fit for him. We met and thought he would be a great addition to our volunteer pool. He has a strong personality and a quick dry sense of humor and was looking for an opportunity to feel valued. He shared that he lives in a Senior Apartment Complex with folks that keep their TV’s too loud and never go outside. He was looking for a ‘job’ that would allow him to get out and mingle with others. We started him in the program as a dining room set-up person. He has since obtained his Food Handler’s card and helps with all kitchen tasks. He volunteers six hours a week and helps with the Coffee and Treats program. He sets up the dining room and assists with serving food. He often asks questions to make sure he understands his tasks. At the conclusion of each shift he leaves with a wave and “Thanks for letting me help, I enjoy the company and the program, have a great day and I’ll see you next time!” At TCAA, he was able to find a place to contribute and feel valued for his efforts, and we’re fortunate to host such an outstanding volunteer.
A little more personal…
The Home Delivered Meal Program serves close to 200 meals a day; this is one story from one day. Justine is 90-year-old widow that lives alone in her own home. She has no support system here, and relatives either live in another state or do not have contact with her. Justine’s health both physical and mentally have been steadily declining over the past few years. It is hard for her to walk without her two canes and she gets confused and scared at times. However, Justine does receive a nutritious meal Monday –Friday from the TCAA home delivered meals program. One particular hot day this summer our delivery person found Justine outside her home sitting in the carport very upset. She told the driver that she had accidentally locked herself out of her house and had no way to get back in. She had no phone with her to call the police or anyone to help her. The driver of course called the police to get her help and stayed with her until help arrived and she was able to get in her home. She is not sure how long she had been outside, the driver was able to give her water and keep her calm until help arrived. When the driver returned to the center TCAA was also able to contact her case manager through Area Agency on Aging and Social Services for other assistance that might be available to her. Justine is extremely grateful that she receives meals and that someone who cares comes to check in on her every day.