St. Francis Square Co-op was the first neighborhood network, inaugurated with the support of CLC and the Board of St. Francis Square Co-op. The Community Living Campaign Committee of the Board and network members celebrated their first ten years with a special event on December 8th. Early founders greeted many new neighbors and remembered those who have passed on who helped create the community ties. Music, poetry and a visit from Supervisor Valli Brown highlighted the afternoon. A photo collage brought back memories of activities over the past 10 years that helped weave community. Take a look below…
Aging with a Disability
Before we opened the doors last October 22nd at St. Anne of the Sunset, we had hoped 15 people might attend our our Monday and Thursday afternoon exercise/community building program. Instead 35 appeared, ready to enjoy the Always Active exercise program. Though most of us lived in the neighborhood, few of us knew one another. The number of participants, and our friendships have only grown from those early days.
But we don’t only exercise when we come together. About a month into the program, Marina Lazarra, the community connector from the Community Living Campaign, began offering after-exercises activities. The first classes were on gardening and healthy herbs – Marina’s interests – an ongoing memoir writing class, classes on “finding your style,” earthquake safety, how to get most out of your cell phone, a three-session series on Stroke Awareness, and an evening meeting on Loneliness and Social Isolation engaged participants and brought in new members. More than 10 of us participated in a letter exchange with the fifth graders at the SF Friends School, and were thrilled to attend the children’s dramatization of our life stories.
Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor Michael as our 2019 Good Neighbor Honoree for Computers and Access.
Twice a week, Michael works at two of SteppingStone’s Adult Day Health Care Centers for seniors and people with disabilities. He tutors the residents for an hour each session, helping them to use technology. He starts with the basics and even shows them how to use social media. Michael worked in the technology field but was unable to continue due to health issues. “Now that I am feeling a bit better,” Michael says, “I can use some of my free time to help others with their understanding of technology.”
Sherri Sawyer, who nominated Michael, says “Michael is very compassionate and patient when working with our participants who are mostly seniors, and often uncomfortable working with technology. I appreciate the way he engages with the seniors. He is able to explain things in ways that our participants can understand. He is truly a gem.”
United Way of the Bay Area’s Francis Goldsmith Fund has helped CLC Vision and Hearing Initiative enrich its work – building community-based and online networks. The goal is support for isolated and at-risk seniors and people with disabilities, reducing the consequences of hearing and vision loss, and helping to ensure that their psychosocial, physical and communication needs are met.
Through our partnerships with the 10 Adult Day Services Centers, assistive aids and equipment were purchased to :(1) provide individual assistance for low-income seniors and persons with disabilities; (2) maintain independent ability to get proper nutrition; (3) rebuild self-confidence through easier access to group socialization activities and (4) computer tutoring; and (5) enhance the safety and mobility to seniors with vision and/or hearing disabilities.
The grant from the Francis Goldsmith Fund enables the Community Living Campaign to showcase assistive technologies and provide training on strategies for living with hearing or vision loss to all of our programs for seniors and people with disabilities. As this work continues, attention is increasingly being given to the development of outcome targets that represent significant changes in the lives of those that benefit.
Over the past year, we have chocked up a solid list of Initiative accomplishments which support our seniors and persons who experience vision and hearing loss:
Partnership at Adult Day Services (ADS):
85 seniors served with grant-purchased equipment & devices:
Over 200 Personal Assistive aids and equipment worth over $6,000 through direct requests from the ten Adult Day Services centers’ staff (occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses, social workers, activities coordinators, directors) for low-income and frail seniors to enhance social engagement, increase independence & reduce isolation and loneliness.
100 seniors and caregivers trained on accessible computers:
In eight ADS centers, 108 seniors have received training and support on accessible desktop computers provided through CLC’s partnership with the Dept. of Aging and Adult Services SF Connected Program, and on iPads/Tablets with accessibility features and Apps purchased with Goldsmith funding.
12 volunteers and ADS staff members provide volunteer almost 700 hours of computer training in English, Russian, Chinese & Spanish.
Hearing Loss 101 Presentation & Screenings:
In our Community Connector neighborhoods, we facilitated four Hearing Loss presentations and three hearing screenings. This resulted in 24 individuals having their hearing tested by the Speech and Hearing Center. Participants also learn about hearing- and vision-related assistive device and strategies that helps seniors remain connected.
Participants in Midtown Terrace Commnity Connector network learn about free specialized phones and mobile phone accessories through the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP).
Emergency Preparedness Focus on Vision & Hearing Loss:
CLC, in partnership with Community Youth Center-SF (CYC-SF) held our first Emergency Preparedness Academy with CLC staff and Community Connectors. We completed 4 courses in personal preparedness at home, traveling or at work, response and recovery during and after a catastrophic disaster and fire safety and basic first aid. These sessions were made possible through funding from the Department of Building Inspection’s Seismic Safety Outreach Program (SSOP)
In the fall of 2018, a class of seniors from IT Bookman Senior Center in the OMI neighborhood attended the Emergency Preparedness Academy. Graduates received Emergency Preparedness bags (“Go Bags”) and certificates of completion.
If you would like more information about the program and how it could come to your neighborhood, please contact Sherri Sawyer, Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (415) 821-1003 ex. 111
The Dignity Fund Coalition invited Mayor London Breed back for a follow-up conversations about issues raised and promises made at their May Candidates Forum. Yomi Wrong returned for another successful term as Forum moderator. She helped keep the conversation focused on a range of key questions. These questions, drawn from the 100’s submitted at the Candidates Forum, sought to keep the Mayor focused. So the conversation zeroed in on her efforts on expanding affordable housing, address homelessness and preparing increasing long term care services would make life better for the City’s older adults and adults with disabilities. Coalition members and key community leaders filled the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Main Library and the event was once again live streamed, with the help of SF GovTV. You can now view on SF Gov TC.
Hope you enjoy some of the pictures below from the Forum and stay tuned for what’s next.
SENIOR BEAT – The walking sticks Dr. June Fisher uses buffer her struggles with severe arthritis. And they might just give her an inside edge on the usefulness of products for older adults and those with disabilities.
One of those retired but busy people, she spends a lot of time mentoring design students and professionals. And she is determined to imprint her mantra, “Design with us, not for us.”
Too many products miss the mark, she said: shopping carts without brakes for hills, kitchen products and gardening tools that defeat a person with arthritis, monitoring devices that sit in a drawer.
“Products need to reflect the needs of people they’re designed for,” Fisher said. “While I appreciate the technical skills of design students and professionals, I don’t want a 23-year-old telling me what I need. It has to be a mutual relationship where elders set the agenda and participate in the development of those products.”
For the past four years, Fisher has mentored teams in the advanced product design course at San Francisco State University taught by professor Ricardo Gomes. In 2016, her team won first prize in The Stanford Center on Longevity International Design Challenge, a global competition that encourages students to develop products and services to improve well-being across the lifespan. This year, her team won third place.
It was a missed chance on cheap heirloom tomatoes that led to the creation of SFSU’s 2016 challenge winner.
“A friend called and said they were selling heirloom tomatoes at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market for two dollars a pound. I got up, got dressed, and then realized that even if they were still available, I couldn’t carry them home. I don’t like to admit it, but I was overcome with despair.”
She shared her dilemma with Gomes, who assigned it as a class project. The results was “City Cart,” a combination walker and shopping basket with brakes, allowing those with mobility issues to walk, shop and return home without assistance.
Farmer’s market dilemma
“I spent a lot of time with June, going to the farmers’ market, talking with her, walking around with her,” said team Captain Brandon Lopez. “She told me she needed something more robust and stable to carry groceries than one of those pull-behind trolleys, and she needed some place to park her walker when she shopped.”
The team developed “tons and tons of prototypes and shared them all with her,” he said. “Partnering with Fisher was tremendous. Otherwise we would just be designing for ourselves.”
This year, Fisher helped another student fine-tune her project after it was named a finalist in the competition. “Grow and Gather” is a movable cart that incorporates support for walking and sitting, with storage for tools and produce. If you want to purchase quality Modafinil at a reasonable cost, is your choice. The treatment does not harm your overall health state but promotes a drastic impact on the organism. The quality of the medication purchased from ModafinilSmart is approved. Besides, you will benefit from professional assistance, fast delivery, and complete anonymity.
“We – Dr. Gomes, Dr. Fisher, and I – met every Friday at Dr. Fisher’s house to discuss the project,” said student developer Seira Yasumatsu. “Dr. Fisher has a beautiful garden, which she has trouble weeding. I shared all the prototypes I made – maybe 20 or 25 little ones, and then six or seven full-sized ones. Dr. Fisher’s approach, ‘design with us, not for us’, is part of me now.”
A new career
It was a crisis in the early days of the AIDS epidemic that turned Fisher to product design. As director of occupational health at San Francisco General Hospital, she knew healthcare workers were worried about contagion through needle sticks. She wanted to do something to alleviate their fears.
She didn’t find a specific solution, but found a new career.
She began attending classes in the Product Design program at the Stanford, where she had attended medical school. Eventually, she was appointed to a lectureship there, which lasted 10 years. She has mentored design students at the University of California-Berkeley and the California College of Arts, as well as those at San Francisco State.
She is also involved with Aging2.0, an interdisciplinary and intergenerational, global community driving collaboration around challenges and opportunities around aging. She said she’s their CEO, or Chief Elder Officer, someone who ensures that products are designed in collaboration with the people who would use them.
Fisher hopes to get more seniors involved in product design.
“I don’t want to be the only old person working with these young designers. We need a multi-generational design class with a cadre of elders who have the ability to set the agenda and participate in the development of products.”
Neighbors throughout San Francisco are at the heart of creating community. In every CLC program, there are many people who share their time and talents to improve lives of fellow seniors and people with disabilities. These dedicated neighbors who share their lifetime of experience and talents demonstrate just how much better we can make our communities when we create opportunities for everyone to contribute.
Each year, CLC hosts a citywide “Good Neighbor” party to thank these neighborhood volunteers for their countless contributions and to honor those in their midst who inspire others in CLC’s neighborhoods and programs.
The afternoon included great food from Mission Language and Vocational School, appetizers from our own Lizette Martinez, and homemade strawberry shortcake from our own Kate Kuckro. Folks also enjoyed a CLC Trivia game, a free prize drawing of themed basics from the different neighborhoods and projects, and fun photos. As one neighbor said, “we come from the north and the south, the east and the west and we join together to learn from one another.”
Honoring Outstanding Neighborhood Volunteers
This year’s Good Neighbor honorees – all seniors or people with disabilities themselves – have contributed in a wide range of ways. But across the board, all are quick to offer help in whatever ways they can. The Honorees help with computers, offer rides, share garden cuttings, host gatherings around the piano, organize neighbors, pack groceries, offer hearing screenings, and reach out to local businesses.
This year’s Good Neighbor Awards go to…
- Carmelita Lozano, Cayuga Connectors
- Nan Park, St. Francis Square Network
- Ruth Dark, Bayview Food Network/Connectors
- Carolyn Taylor , OMI Food Network
- Victor Lam, Computers & Access
- Steven Lopez & N. California Hearing & Speech Center, Vision & Hearing
- Brenda Billings, Events
- Marc Christensen, Merced Extension Triangle Community Connectors
These special neighbors will be honored again at CLC’s 10 year anniversary event on September 20th.
Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors and organizations who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor The Hearing and Speech Center of Northern CA as our 2018 Good Neighbor Honoree for our VIsion and Hearing Initiative.
The Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California has partnered with the Community Living Campaign almost since the days we first opened our doors 10 years ago. HSCN staff not only gives presentations and conduct hearing screenings at our neighborhood programs, they also serve as a referral resource for hearing-related issues.
“Workshops,” Steven Lopez, the HSCN program manager explained, “address hearing technologies, insurance coverage, social resources, phone apps, and much more.”
Hearing Loss Affects Almost 50% of People Over 65
Shannon Simonson, the Director of Education and Social Services, elaborated on Steven’s outline. Almost half of all people over 65 experience hearing loss. While hearing aids address some of this loss, devices cannot address “the sense of lost identity that accompanies hearing loss, and the reality that they will never hear like they did before they lost their hearing. Our workshops address this loss and offer emotional and psychological support that many individuals and families with hearing loss and communication difficulties need.”
CLC staff member LaNay Eastmen, who facilitated our partnership with HSCN before recently moving to Oregon, praised their presentations: “We know the HSCN staff has delivered their educational presentations and answered similar, if not the same, questions, several times. However, they always present with such energy, enthusiasm and attention to audience interaction. The sessions provide a real sense of discovery as if the topic is being presented for the very first time without losing the structure and intent of the presentation.
Supporting Seniors’ Individual Communication Challenges
“During the hearing screenings or education presentations, it amazed me how their staff actively focused on each audience member’s question as a unique issue. It’s empowering and confidence-building for the older adults we serve. Hearing loss is not just hard-of-hearing or deafness, it also involves the brain where sound is translated into understanding words. Every answer usually includes one or two strategies that may be of immediate assistance for the individual experiencing a communication challenge”
In addition to their community services, HSNC offers hearing evaluations, support groups, and employment services for adults and seniors; audiology services for infants, children, and adults; and speech/language therapy and evaluation at their cheerful and busy office on Divisadero. With the exception of hearing aids, most services are free.
“It’s a great program and a great partnership,” said Sherri Sawyer, who nominated HSCN for the good neighbor award. “They’re really solid providers; and an important part of our vision and hearing initiative.”
Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor Ruth as our 2018 Good Neighbor Honoree for the Bayview.
Ruth Dark, the good neighbor honoree from the Bayview/Network for Elders, derives joy from helping others. That’s where she finds her meaning in life.
From Retirement to Semi-Retirement
In 1987, Ruth took early retirement from the San Mateo County School District where she had been a special education teacher. Ruth continued to substitute teach during the early years of her retirement; freedom from the classroom allowed her to devote more time to her church, family and community.
Now, 31 years after retirement, Ruth still derives joy from helping others. At an age when most of her friends have given up driving, Ruth still drives, and is frequently called upon to drive friends to meetings and appointments. “I enjoy helping people as well as I can.”
Earlier this year, Ruth and her daughter traveled to South America. After some urging, the ticket agenda convinced Ruth to use a wheelchair to get around LAX. “I felt like a fool having people do things for me. I do for others.” “But,” she continued, “I gave them a generous tip. When someone does something good for me, I reward them. If God puts it in their heart to do it, then I’m going to let them do it.”
Beverly Taylor, the CLC Connector in the Bayview, and a frequent passenger, says she nominated Ruth for this award because of “her willing spirit; she’s active, dynamic, and never selfish.”
When asked why she remains so involved, Ruth simply said, “I enjoy life because I enjoy doing for others.”
Urgency came through in the voices of those who spoke at the May 9 Board of Supervisors hearing on employment. Seniors and adults with disabilities both spoke of the economic need in this increasingly expensive City. But more than that, they shared how they were seeking respect, purpose, and the ability to contribute their lifetime of experience to improve their communities.
Rebecca Shotwell, pictured left, shared that finding a job “saved her life.” A graphic artist in the days before Photoshop, Rebecca retired two years before the 2008 financial crisis. Two years ago, after she and her husband had almost depleted their savings, Rebecca started looking for a job, “but who was going to hire an old lady?” Through CLC’s SF ReServe program. Rebecca began working at Aquatic Park Senior Center. They were so thrilled with her skills and contribution, that when a position opened up, they hired her directly.
Increasing Focus on Senior and Disability Employment Challenges
Supervisor Norman Yee, who called for the hearing following CLC’s recent Work Matters! event, recruited Supervisor Sheehy, Rohan, Fewer and Kim as co-sponsors.
A presentation by SF City Departments introduced the set the stage for the testimony that followed, with data, program overviews and recommendations – linked here.
The hearing was broadcast on SFGov TV – if you missed, you can view the Employment Hearing there (the Employment Opportunities for Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities section starts at 1:23). Thanks to everyone who came and who spoke. We are hopeful that this will lead to more scrutiny and more funding to address this pressing issue.