Community Commentary: Like most nonprofits, senior center needs support

The fortunes of nonprofits have changed drastically. Just like many individuals, nonprofits are feeling the crunch of the economic downturn. We predicted last year that nonprofits would find themselves on the frontlines of cutbacks and reduced spending.

Sadly, the economic restraints have become a grim reality.

Most philanthropists are for the first time watching their donation dollars. Since they, too, are governed by the economy and by the continued fall of the stock market, their contributions are less. This affects most nonprofits that depend on grants and donations.

Here at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, a nonprofit funded by community donations, grants and a grant from the city of Costa Mesa, we struggle to make ends meet.

We have an annual fundraising campaign, offer membership and many programs, but it is hard to keep growing when the dollars aren't there. The seniors themselves have come forward realizing they must help their organization, but our seniors retired on minimal incomes and cannot afford any extra expenses. They give what they can, to try and hang on to their little piece of heaven. Their needs are certainly not matched by their incomes.

I want to emphasize that many of our seniors do not have families living close by and regard our senior center as their home away from home. This is where they congregate, have a well-balanced lunch and socialize with their friends. For most, these are the only friendly faces they see all week. Faces they have come to trust and depend on. This is the place where everybody knows their name.

We have upward of 60 classes to aid our seniors in keeping fit and healthy. It is not uncommon to see them share photographs of their children and grandchildren and reminisce when they were once young, about a time when things were simpler.

We provide social services, a nurse for medical check-ups, and our seniors receive lots of care and attention from the center's staff. It is indeed a haven, a place to have a cup of coffee and a chat.

Yes, the past couple of years have been very hard on our center but we refuse to forget our seniors or put them on the back burner of our minds. I never realized how difficult it would be to reach out to the community about the need to contribute and take care of the health and happiness of our aging population. The seniors make up the very group that gave us the Baby Boomers, the chance to be educated, and to flourish.

Please come visit and see for yourself what a great atmosphere we offer our seniors.

AVIVA GOELMAN is executive director of the Costa Mesa Senior Center.

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