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Organization puts Seniors First

Seniors First offers variety of programs to keep seniors independent
By: Bridget Jones Journal staff writer
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Local seniors can get much needed information and care through an Auburn-based organization. Seniors First, a non-profit organization, provides several programs to seniors throughout Placer County. The programs are designed to keep seniors independent in their own homes as long as possible, said Laura Wayman fund development coordinator of Seniors First. “We’re not there to pull them out of their homes, and we don’t want to do that,” Wayman said. Seniors First has been providing programs to the community since 1971. Some of its programs include nutrition services, transportation, home visits, home modifications and safety repairs, and information and assistance. Seniors First is like a 411 service for local seniors and their families. The organization is available to answer all types of questions and even make referrals to other organizations and facilities, said Candace Roeder, executive director of Seniors First. “If somebody doesn’t know who else to call, they can call us, and we can get them connected,” Roeder said. Wayman said the organization offers seniors and family members a chance to make one call and get all the answers they need to prevent future problems like medical issues. “That family member, rather than having to call 6 million other people, will call us,” Wayman said. “Our goal is to get the information out to the seniors and their families. Let’s work on making them independent and safe before (anything negative) happens.” Seniors First, which is located on D Avenue next to the Auburn Multipurpose Senior Center, also offers services like Meals on Wheels, door-to-door rides that give seniors chances to run errands, transportation to non-emergency medical appointments and meals in the Seniors First Café. The Seniors First Café has nine different sites throughout Placer County including locations in Auburn, Colfax, Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville. Seniors First Meals on Wheels also delivers meals in these areas. The cafés and meal delivery service offer seniors nutritious, heart-healthy meals Monday through Friday at noon. Every meal includes one-third of the daily dietary requirements for a senior, said Jasmine SooHoo-Pope, nutrition services dietitian for Seniors First. “It’s not just the meal, we’re providing their nutrition and some of them, it’s their main meal or sole meal of the day,” SooHoo-Pope said. SooHoo-Pope said the quality of the meals is always improving, and the organization welcomes input and suggestions from seniors. Roeder said she and other Seniors First representatives even sample food to make sure quality is above average. “It’s restaurant-style food and it tastes good,” Wayman said. Wayman said another important aspect of the café is the interaction seniors have while they are eating. “With this they get the whole social aspect too, that’s so important,” she said. Cal Kokila, a regular diner at the café at the Dewitt Center in Auburn, said he enjoys activities at the senior center before socializing during his mid-day meal with Seniors First. “I enjoy it because I see people I haven’t seen,” Kokila said. “That’s the thing I enjoy most of all. People here are very easy to meet. They are all from different aspects of life and have come here from many states and even some foreign countries I believe. They have an opportunity here to mix.” Wayman said the nutrition services could definitely care for more seniors, both in the cafés and through home deliveries. “We’ve got the opportunity to feed more people that are in need,” she said. “We’re looking at possibly developing a route in Foresthill because it’s so needed out there.” Roeder said the organization is about helping seniors in any way it can. “If we don’t provide services, we will tell them who provides the services they are looking for,” Roeder said. Roeder said Seniors First currently has 400 volunteers working as drivers, delivering meals, working in the office and helping at fundraising events, but more are always needed. For those who can’t volunteer, donations are always gladly accepted. To find out how to donate or volunteer, contact Seniors First at (530) 889-9500. Roeder said no one should be afraid to call for help, because the organization wants to do whatever it can to make the lives of seniors better. “We’re not judgmental,” she said. “We’re there to help them remain independent, and however they choose to do that is their business and not our business.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------- Seniors First What: A non-profit organization dedicated to making the lives of seniors better Where: 11566 D Ave., Auburn Call: (530) 889-9500 Website: seniorsfirst.org