Friends of El Dorado County Seniors
● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
With the state of the economy and government funds dwindling, senior programs have been struggling to survive.
Fortunately, Friends of El Dorado County Seniors – a fund under the auspices and charitable designation of the El Dorado Community Foundation – has stepped in to make a difference.
The physical decline that can accompany aging, along with illness, dementia and financial challenges, can make it necessary for some seniors to depend on others for many things they previously did for themselves. “There is a need for the future for something specifically in El Dorado County that is dedicated to seniors,” says Kathi Lishman, chair of the organization.
The nonprofit – whose goal is to improve the quality of life and support the wellness, dignity and independence of El Dorado County seniors and their caregivers through advocacy and financial assistance – became official in November of 2010, started raising money in May of 2011, and expanded from an advisory board to a large group of volunteers in February of 2012. “Since then we’ve done several fundraisers and have a very enthusiastic group of people,” Lishman says. Three projects in 2012 – a spaghetti feed benefiting the El Dorado County Senior Day Care Center, Wine in the Vines at Sierra Vista Winery, and Senior Santa – furthered their fundraising goals and generated significant results.
The Senior Santa program provided assistance to 27 seniors who had difficulty during the holiday season due to physical and/or financial hardships. On a chosen day, the seniors received a gift card and a volunteer helped them shop. Friends of EDC Seniors, the Lions Club, local businesses and public donations provided a Christmas luncheon complete with Santa Claus. Karen Soper of Diamond Springs, who had a stroke in 2005 with residual difficulties and recently broke her hip, says the program was a great assistance to her and her husband Ed. She had not been able to get “out and about” for some time. “It overwhelmed us – the care this organization puts forth to be a friend to you,” Karen says.
Future fundraisers will continue to aid seniors. “We’re hoping to have some small grants that people could apply for,” Lishman says. “The more money we have, the more grants we can give.”
“Caregiving for someone with dementia can be far harder than caring for those with other obstacles,” says Wanda Demarest, program supervisor at the El Dorado County Senior Day Care Center. “Families come in just torn, overwrought and at their wit’s ends, not knowing what they’re going to do. [After] you offer this service, show them how affordable it is, and tell them about other resources...they just look so much better.” Friends of EDC Seniors donated equipment to the center, which enables its members to participate more easily in exercise programs and allows them to display members’ birthdays, activity schedules and photos. The center also facilitates audiovisual training and education for staff, family caregivers and the public; they hold many other community functions as well.
This year, Friends of EDC Seniors plans on having an event each quarter. “Anybody is welcome to become a volunteer. We have no membership dues; we’re just a bunch of behind-the-scenes worker bees.”
Visit friendsofedcseniors.org for more information.