Commentary: Newport Beach is committed to both OASIS and its growing senior population

Dancing under the disco ball was the place to be on Saturday at OASIS Senior Center.
(Susan Hoffman / For the Daily Pilot)

In between scooping ice cream for 100 root beer floats and dancing with my daughter to the Tijuana Dogs in the Evelyn Hart Event Center at the OASIS Senior Center, I observed yet again the incredible people who serve our city’s seniors.

Senior services will continue to grow as our demographics shift. According to a recent report from the Southern California Assn. of Governments, the 65-plus age group added the most population to our city since 2000 (7,157 people).

We still see that 37.5% of our housing stock was built before 1970. This means that as more people age in place and our senior population grows, our senior services become increasingly important.

Fortunately for our city, our senior population has been truly flourishing in activity and support. Volunteers have put more than 39,600 hours back into our community by serving as greeters, instructors and home-delivering meals, to name just a few. These volunteers are often led by the incomparable dedication of the nonprofit Friends of OASIS.

The role of Friends has expanded in its 40 years of existence, with Friends providing travel services, gift shop, sailing club, monthly social gatherings and fundraising events. Friends continues to provide substantial financial support to the transportation program and recreational activities.

Their dedication encompasses Dale Carnegie’s belief that “[s]o the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.”

In addition to our core volunteers, our city spent over $3 million last year on a mixture of excellent staff and maintenance and operations. Our city provides annually over 12,000 rides through our transportation services. Over 37,000 meals have been served at OASIS and through Meals on Wheels.

Over 82,500 participants enjoyed recreational class. And our OASIS fitness center received more than 74,000 attendees last year alone.

Our appreciation continues for our senior services manager, Celeste Jardine-Haug, and her staff.

One final note. As we do experience increased numbers of seniors aging in place, Newport Beach has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County to help low-income seniors in need of critical home repairs.

If you have any questions about the Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program, please contact the OASIS Senior Center. Together we will continue to thrive.

WILL O’NEILL is a member of the Newport Beach City Council.