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 Sara as our 2017 Good Neighbor Honoree for the Connections for Healthy Aging program.
Sara Taylor, a practicing attorney, has shared her knowledge on completing financial power of attorney forms and advance health care directives with Connections for Healthy Aging participants since the start of the program. “I think CLC and this program are fabulous,” Sara said, “and the classes are something I can do to help others.”
Sara attributes her desire to be of service to growing up in a small town in Montana. People there, she explained, do whatever they can to help others. There’s a sense of community. And building community is what the Community Living Campaign (CLC) is all about.
Sara smiled, reflecting on the workshops she teaches for us. Every class is different, she explained. Some are homogeneous, others are not; some come from large families, others don’t have families or they’re not close with their relatives; some have close friends, others are alone; some don’t have much money, others have more. The situations are so diverse, and “the things that come up in class are so meaningful. I always end each class saying, ‘this is the best class ever,’ and I mean it.”
Sara graduated from college with a degree in education, which she used to find her first job teaching high school English and history. “But I wanted a deeper connection with the students, and that’s difficult with classes of 30.” So she returned to school, this time to the Pacific School of Religion.
“I needed a job to afford Seminary, so I began working for an attorney,” Sara explained.
Somewhere along the way, as she was typing yet another draft of a long brief, Sara turned to her boss, and said “your earlier draft was better.” While he was initially uncomfortable with her criticism, he eventually took her advice. But he did more than that. Realizing that Sara had a good mind for the law, her boss paid for her to attend some law classes.
Several years of experience and some classes later, Sara “sat for the Bar.” That’s a process, she explained, where you can take the Bar without completing all the courses. Sara passed and received her license, “if I had known the odds against that (passing the Bar without taking classes), I wouldn’t have done it,” she said. Once Sara earned her license, she opened her own practice, mainly handling trusts and estates.
Linda Silver, who initially coordinated the Connections for Healthy Aging program with program founder Marcia Peterzell, recruited Sara to teach the legal component of the program. Linda had worked with Sara in Marin and knew she had the perfect skill set for this program
In nominating Sara as a Good Neighbor Honoree Lizette Martinez who now coordinates the program, wrote, “Sara is an excellent volunteer who has given countless hours helping San Franciscans empower themselves. She brings so much to every class she teaches. The people who attend her classes keep talking about it afterwards.”
While Sara, who lives in Novato has begun reducing her time in San Francisco, she intends to still volunteer with CLC. “CLC and the Connections for Healthy Aging program are fabulous. I receive as much as I give,” she said.
Her students, and all of us at Community Living Campaign, are grateful for her commitment.
To learn more about Healthy Aging workshops or to share your expertise with seniors and people with disabilities, please contact Lizettte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-821-1003, ext. 108. The Connections for Healthy Aging workshops are funded through generous grants from United Way of the Bay Area, the May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, and the Long Foundation. Many classes are available outside of San Francisco through our partner, California Alliance for Retired Americans.