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Nonprofit Profile – Senior Community Centers

ORGANIZATION

Name: Paul Downey.

Title: President and CEO.

Organization: Senior Community Centers.

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Mission of organization: To provide quality and compassionate services for the survival, health and independence of seniors living in poverty.

Telephone: 619-235-6572.

Web site: servingseniors.org.

Founded: 1970.

Milestone: Being repeatedly recognized as one of the most innovative providers of senior services in the nation.

Annual income: $8 million.

Expense allocation: 13 percent.

Corporate supporters: Kelly Capital, Sempra Energy, Union Bank of California, Bank of America, Qualcomm, Wells Fargo Bank, U.S. Bank, North Island Credit Union, Golden Eagle Insurance, Chelsea Investment, Smith Consulting Architects, Dominy & Associates Architects, and San Diego Downtown Breakfast Rotary.

Board chair: Kate Engler.

Board members: Marge Schmale, Will Beamer, V. Scott Cairns, Rosalie Gerevas, Jonathan Heller, Kathy Parker, Arlene Prater, Joy Vaccari, Susan Boyle, Susan Channick, Tana Cleaves, Darlyn Davenport, Chris Gold, Dale Goldman, Susan Gonick, Lisa Mednick, Mary O’Tousa, Sheila Potiker, Tiah Reppas, Randi Rosen, Mark Sherwin, Thomas A. Smith, Janet Stannard, Nancy Vaughan, Nykia Wilson, Janet Winnick and Debi Zumtobel.

Employees: 68.

Volunteers: More than 500.

Events: Heroes Luncheon in May.

Wish list: Donors willing to make donations to help us feed seniors.

OFFICE ISSUES

Recent challenge: Finding a property to purchase that will allow us to fulfill our vision of a state-of-the-art senior wellness facility that encompasses all of our existing programs (meal services, housing assistance, medical and mental health care, access to social services, socialization activities and more) and meets the needs of aging baby boomers in the future.

Measure of success: Receiving a hug from seniors as they tell me that the centers saved their life.

Smartest move: Hiring a veteran management team and front-line staff members who bring tremendous passion for helping seniors to not only survive, but also to thrive.

Missed opportunity: Not becoming a developer of affordable housing complexes for low-income seniors sooner. The need is critical because it is inexcusable that many seniors spend 80 percent or more of their incomes on rent.

Misconceptions: That all seniors are frail and feeble. In fact, most seniors are a resource that can and should be strongly encouraged to be active members of the community until the day they die.

PROFESSIONAL INSIGHTS

Personal path to nonprofit work: I began as a volunteer serving lunch at the nonprofit while working on the staff of former Mayor Maureen O’Connor. That experience blew apart my own misconceptions about seniors and introduced me to one of San Diego’s cornerstone charitable organizations. In 1995, I was thrilled to learn that the nonprofit was looking for a new CEO, so I applied and was hired.

Toughest aspect: Realizing that demographically the number of seniors will double in the U.S. by 2030 to about 80 million. For the foreseeable future, demand for services will put constant pressure to raise more and more money.

Most surprising aspect: The resilience and generally positive attitude of seniors who have experienced just about the worst that life can throw at them. I’m not sure I could do what they do.

Biggest pain: The Sisyphus factor of having to constantly raise enough money to fund programs each year , and then start all over again the next year with an even bigger goal.

Greatest pleasure: Seeing a homeless senior come into our program, go through our transitional housing program and then “graduate” into one of our affordable housing complexes.

INTROSPECTIONS

Best recent moment: Receiving a transformational gift that will help bring our state-of-the-art senior wellness center to fruition.

Worst recent moment: Attending a community meeting regarding relocating one of our sites and having a 20-something man shake his finger and say he didn’t want seniors in “his” neighborhood , I guess he plans on never getting old.


Nonprofit Profile appears regularly on a space-available basis. Contact Editor Tom York at tyork@sdbj.com if your organization would like to be profiled.

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