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Stanislaus Senior Foundation

Some seniors work hard for their entire lives. But oftentimes a life of living check-to-check leaves them with just enough money to get by in retirement.

Then disaster strikes. And there’s no money to recover.

One local diabetic senior’s home caught fire, destroying his medication and putting his health at risk. A 76-year-old had a check come in late, and was days from being evicted. A 62-year-old had her home robbed, losing everything.

“Things like that can’t wait,” says Elizabeth Price, President of the Stanislaus Senior Foundation.

That’s where the Stanislaus Senior Foundation comes in. The nonprofit provides emergency assistance funding that helps local seniors get back on their feet.

Before the Foundation came about, there was a bit of a gap in care for this vulnerable population.

“There were a lot of organizations that help children, but there weren’t as many that help seniors,” Price said.

And not just seniors in general, Price said, but seniors here in Stanislaus County.

“There are people in our community who need help,” Price said.

Price is full of stories.

In the high heat of summer, one local senior’s air conditioning broke. And while it seems simple to say, “just fix it,” he couldn’t afford it. So he sat in his hot, hot home, in potentially life-threatening heat.

The Stanislaus Senior Foundation paid to fix the HVAC, and now his home is cool again. He’s safe.

This kind of thing happens surprisingly often, Price says. EMTs often respond to a medical emergency and realize the AC is out. The senior is rushed to the emergency room for treatment, but where do they go afterward? Back to their dangerously hot home?

“Can the ER person fix that problem?” Price said. “No. Neither can the first responder. Our foundation can.”

The need for an organization like the Stanislaus Senior Foundation was greater than ever when it was founded in 2008.

Stanislaus County’s ability to help local seniors was limited following massive budget cuts. Safety nets were eliminated as the economy crashed, not just here but across the country.

Week after week, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors heard stories about seniors in need.

“There just wasn’t enough money to go around,” Price said.

But maybe, just maybe, private money could help fill that gap.

So the Foundation started out small. It had little more than a vision to improve the quality of life of local seniors.

“We started with zero seed money,” Price said. “We had zero.”

Thanks to the hard work of the 100 percent volunteer-run organization, the Foundation is now strong. But it takes passionate people to make the Foundation work, receiving no pay to make the most of every dollar raised.

Though the Foundation is bigger now, it has remained nimble enough to provide help when it is needed.

“If we get a call on Friday that a senior is in trouble, the money goes out the same day,” Price said.

Usually, at-risk seniors are referred to the Foundation via Adult Protective Services or the Area Agency on Aging. No individual grant is ever for too much, but those small amounts add up to make a world of difference for the seniors.

The Foundation does more than just emergency grants. They fund elder abuse prevention programs, ukulele classes that help battle depression, innovative music therapy programs for those who suffer from dementia, and more. In the past, they “adopted” grandparents, providing food and other necessities.

Most of the program’s funding comes from one big, Annual Holiday Fundraiser. This year’s is planned for Dec. 10, at the McHenry Mansion.

Every dollar raised counts, Price says, because every dollar goes to make a local senior’s life better. And when disaster strikes, the Stanislaus Senior Foundation is there to step forward.

“We come forward,” Price said. “We’re going to come forward with the money that is going to rescue that person.”

For more information, or to donate, visit stanseniorfoundation.com.

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