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Serve Our Seniors celebrates first anniversary

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Just a little more than a year ago, many senior citizens on the North Shore and various parts of Truckee were isolated from social contact and agency services. Social service organizations did not have regular contact with these individuals and the future of the senior lunch program in Truckee was uncertain.

But when Orangevale, Calif.-based Serve Our Seniors, a senior services organization, moved into the Truckee-Donner Senior Apartments and Community Center last summer, a progressive movement to reach out to seniors in our community became a continued success.

With an assistant program manager, one cook, an assistant cook and driver and a volunteer driver, SOS is now serving lunch to between 20 and 40 seniors a day at the senior center, and delivering hot and frozen meals to about 55 homebound seniors in the Truckee-Tahoe area.

“We are servicing seniors with homebound hot and frozen meals on the north side of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding communities,” said SOS Assistant Program Manager Tanya Schnitzius. “We serve all of Truckee, including Glenshire, Hirschdale and Floriston.”

The meals are all prepared in the kitchen in the Truckee-Donner Senior Apartments Community Room, and are delivered in a 1999 Subaru Outback Sport purchased with monies from a Tahoe-Truckee Community Foundation grant and matching funds from the community. The car has all-wheel drive and is a great addition to the program, considering the regular driver and assistant cook used to drive her own car, which did not have 4-wheel drive.

“We know now that we should have no problem getting over Brockway,” Schnitzius said.

The meal delivery service provides more than just a hot or frozen meal. It gives SOS volunteers and employees a chance to make meaningful contact with the seniors.

“My goal is to make sure each client has that social interaction at least once a week,” Schnitzius said. “Reaching out to the unreachable is my M.O.”

SOS has also planned more organized activities at the senior apartment complex. Seniors on the Move is an activity group that formed this spring to bring seniors together for such events as gardening, quilting, woodworking, exercise programs and reading. Truckee’s Angel Tree Network donated a big screen TV and a L-shaped couch to the community room a few months ago. The seniors gather once a month to gather for Big Screen/Opera Night for which they dress up, enjoy pot luck goodies and watch different productions such as “Phantom of the Opera.”

Schnitvius said she has noticed changes amongst the seniors’ attitudes as well.

“I believe we have seen a change in their outlooks,” she said. “They are becoming much more active in the program. They not only become involved in the activities but they are wanting to give back.”

She said many have expressed an interest in working with children, and an intergenerational program will begin in the fall where fifth grade students from Prosser Creek Charter School will come in to work with the seniors on their homework and other activities.

“It will help the students feel more comfortable around the seniors and vice versa,” Schnitzius said.

SOS celebrated its first anniversary of service to the mountain communities of Truckee and adjacent Placer County, at a special luncheon for the seniors on Friday. SOS CEO Joan Barry explained the meal program relies on Area 4 Agency on Aging, volunteer senior donations and community donations for funding. Seniors are asked to donate $3 per meal or whatever they can afford.

“We do not deny anyone,” Schnitzius said.

She said the anniversary celebration was wonderful.

“The turnout was much larger than we thought it would be,” she said. The Truckee Barbershop Quartet entertained quests with songs, and Tom Albright played the piano throughout the meal.

“It was pretty much a happy birthday to SOS and a thank-you to the supporters and the contributors because without them we wouldn’t be here for a second year,” Schnitzius said.

She said SOS is always looking for volunteers and donations are greatly needed and always accepted. For information, call SOS at 587-2408.


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