Debt-Free on our 3rd Anniversary of the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center Opening

April 19, 2013

April 22, 2013 marks the third anniversary of opening the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center.  Senior Community Centers staff, the Gary and Mary West Foundation and over 200 seniors gathered throughout the building to celebrate this home away from home.

Seniors took the stage to express their heartfelt gratitude towards Gary and Mary West as well as Senior Community Centers staff. The Dining Room, hallways and Gathering Place vibrated with positive energy and applause when I had the distinct pleasure of announcing that as of April 18, 2013, we are the proud owners of the building! Thanks to very generous supporters, we officially paid off all debt we incurred to build the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center.


(Click the picture to view a short slideshow of the event)

Every day 600+ low-income seniors from all over San Diego come through our doors. The Center is home, a place where they receive companionship, support and healthy meals. Seniors feel safe because we have a zero tolerance against discrimination of any kind. I’ll leave you with a few widely-echoed sentiments that seniors said at the birthday party:

“I love coming to the Center. You treat less fortunate people with such respect that I feel human again.” ~Marcello

“I come here every day at 11 for lunch and then I stay for the afternoon activities. Everybody is so nice.” ~Lisa, 89

SUNDAY at 10 a.m.: We will be on KUSI’s San Diego People

December 30, 2011


On Sunday at 10 a.m., please tune into KUSI/channel 9 to catch me on the station’s public information show “San Diego People.” One of three local non-profits to take part in the program, I was fortunate to represent the senior community and discuss the need for the public’s support to help nourish our local seniors through nutrition, housing, health and well-being.

If you are interested in making a year-end donation to support San Diego’s low-income seniors, please contact (619) 487-0605 or donate online by clicking here .

Have a safe and happy New Year!


Fran Robinson Family Gives “Food from the Heart”

December 27, 2011

Today is the Fran Robinson Family of the Day at Senior Community Centers. Fran’s daughter Gail and son-in-law Jeffrey Donahue, want to honor their mother by making a $1,000 contribution to SCC and be the sponsors of the 1,800 meals that we served today. They chose December 27, as the Fran Robinson day because their lovely mother is in town and they all came down to serve meals to our seniors as a family.

“Her energy and zest for life have gone to teaching us all many things as a mother. She always encouraged us to look on the good side of things and persevere and instilled in all of us the importance of being charitable and always helping others.” says Gail.

Food from the Heart program at SCC was created to give families and groups of friends and colleagues, a way to express their philanthropy through the support of deserving San Diegans. We thank Fran and her lovely family for making a difference and adopting our cause as the Family of the Day. Today there are 1,800 more full stomachs and smiling faces. Thank you!

Univision San Diego Features “Food from the Heart”

December 20, 2011

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Brent Wakefield, vice president of development, Senior Community Centers, who writes about his experience sharing our mission during a recent visit to a local Spanish-language TV station.

Senior Community Centers was recently invited to appear on “Despierta San Diego,” a local TV news morning show on KBNT-TV, that exclusively delivers the news in Spanish. It was an effort to encourage the public to give financially to our organization during the holidays and to inform them of our newest initiative, “Food from the Heart.” So what better way to celebrate the season than featuring a demonstration of a simple recipe that we teach the seniors at the Gary & Mary West Wellness Senior Center.

I enlisted the help of Yolanda Maldonado, one of our amazing volunteers to accompany me to the station and participate. On the way to the station, she told me that it was her first time ever inside a TV station and it was a real treat to be able to meet the reporters who bring her the news every morning.

As we entered the studio to set-up, we were greeted by a mariachi band rehearsing before the show started. It was a great way to kick-off the morning and get us into the holiday spirit. We had a wonderful interview, sharing our Tuscan Bean Soup recipe with the viewers and Yolanda was able to express why she is involved with Senior Community Centers.

Here’s a link to our video segment so you can see our first morning show interview in Spanish. By working with KBNT-TV, we are able to share our mission with an even greater audience — to make them aware of our services and encourage them to support our organization during the holidays and throughout the year.

Also, if you’re looking for the Tuscan Bean Soup recipe, you can download the English version here and the Spanish version here.

¡Feliz Navidad!

This Holiday Season Consider Giving to Those Who Have Less

December 8, 2011

For many of us, the concept of not having food on our table during the holiday is unimaginable. But for many San Diego seniors, meeting their daily basic needs is a struggle.  When most of us are with our family enjoying turkey and all the fixings, the reality for some seniors is they may not have the resources to eat at all.

When I first started with Senior Community Centers nearly 17 years ago, we were serving two meals per day, Monday through Friday to San Diego low-income seniors. One Friday evening, I came across one of our clients. Gilbert asked me if we were going to be serving meals over the weekend. I gently told him no and that the meal service would resume on Monday morning. Then it occurred to me, what did Gilbert do for nutrition for the weekend? So I asked and Gilbert told me he would buy a hamburger on Saturday morning and then cut it into fours – each quarter accounting for two meals for each of the weekend days.

It was then that I had an “aha moment” and made it my mission to find a way to provide more meals for our low-income seniors. Through many years of advocacy and hard work by my staff and people who support seniors, Senior Community Centers now serves two meals per day seven days a week at our main downtown center and five days a week at nine congregate meal sites in Downtown, South Bay, East County and North County. This is equal to more than 1,800 meals per day, which also includes deliveries to our homebound seniors. We expect to exceed 550,000 meals just this year alone. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011

Joseph Gavin moved from Chicago to attend San Diego State University. He’s pursuing a master’s degree in Gerontology and is a former West Scholar. Last month he joined SCC as an outreach case manager.

joe gavinIn looking back on my year, I find the source of many pleasant recollections is my eleven months at Senior Community Centers. I’ve engaged with the efforts of the organization on multiple levels.  As a volunteer on a farmer’s market trip, in the home-delivered meals and advocacy programs as a student-intern; and now employed as a part-time outreach case manager, I see the importance of the work that SCC does. Each one of these experiences provide me with a variety of rewards, but none greater than the relationships formed with the seniors and staff alike who give me far more than I return to them. It’s a bountiful year for me.I can think of no better way to express my humble thanks than to participate in the serving of the Thanksgiving meal.

Volunteering on this day allows me to share in the community spirit that is part of the fabric of the organization. This connection to the importance of work done on behalf of others will serve to bring me closer to my family, especially my mother and father. Though we will be separated by many miles on this day, volunteering to serve seniors brings to life the values and principles they worked so hard to instill in me. It will make it feel as though they are right here with me. Each one of us takes away something different from a volunteer experience; for me it is the physical expression of honor and respect to those who aided and guided me, taught and cared for me. Whatever your idea of personal reward for volunteer work may be, I am confident you can find a chance to uncover it here at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Every year our SCC family comes together to serve seniors during the holidays. Former and current board members, staff and the many volunteers throughout San Diego habitually make this part of their holiday tradition. I would like to extend our appreciation and gratitude to everyone who helps to make the holidays special for our seniors. To find out how to volunteer or become a Food from the Heart family, click here>>>. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. – Paul

Join Our Family With “Food from the Heart”

November 3, 2011

Here in San Diego, Senior Community Centers is making a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of seniors each day who aren’t able to meet their basic needs. We provide over 1,800 daily meals to needy seniors throughout the county at our 10 dining sites and at the homes of our homebound seniors.

I’d like to share some exciting information about our brand new “Food from the Heart” campaign that will not only feed nutritious meals to seniors, but generate a grass-roots philanthropic challenge where everyone can participate.

Here is a video that explains the program in more detail:

How would you like to be our family for the day and with your generosity feed this wonderful group of seniors on the calendar day that you select? You and your family or friends can be the designated family of all our seniors for that day.  Our definition of family is really big.  It can be a group of folks from your church or synagogue, a service club, softball team or students from your kids’ school.  Any group of people willing to make a difference in the lives of our seniors is a “family.”

How can your family help feed our seniors?

It’s simple!

  1. Send an email or make a call to all your family members or friends and ask each member to give what they can.
  2. Pool your money together and for $1,000 dollars your “family” can be our seniors’ family for the day and provide the support we need to cover the cost of these meals. Many of us are blessed with larger families, or have families at work or with our friends, and collectively will quickly reach or surpass this dollar amount.
  3. You and your “family” will also be invited on that day of the year that you choose to sponsor, and serve the meals to our seniors, whose smiles will give you an even greater gift in return.
  4. Senior Community Centers would like to feature you on our web site as our family of the day with a photo of the family and your favorite quote that reflects your family’s values and aspirations.

Thank you for your generosity and for being part of a broader solution to end senior poverty and hunger through innovative solutions. Let us leave you with one of our favorite quotes.

“The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation.”  by Miriam Beard

Visit and sign up!

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