Founded in 1908, St Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS) is the oldest senior service agency in Los Angeles. SBSS is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization that empowers a diverse community of older adults to Live Well, Feel Well, and Age Well, with dignity and respect. Most SBSS participants live alone, have few relatives or friends to provide assistance, and speak minimal English. Most depend on social security of $800-$900 per month. Living at or below the federal poverty level, they lack the resources to meet their basic food, housing, and healthcare needs.
SBSS multilingual case managers assess individual needs and develop a plan of care. This can include housing, counseling, in-home services, transportation, translation assistance, emergency assistance, forms completion, and reassurance calls.
SBSS also provides family members who are primary caregivers with a caregiver support program. This program assists with support services, education, and resources to help navigate situations, prioritize self-care, and educate family members about their role in the well-being of their loved ones.
SBSS offers a rich array of activities that keep older adults active and socially engaged. During the pandemic, SBSS is offering a variety of classes by telephone, including exercise classes, health talks, trivia and more. A part of this is giving older adults a lifeline via technology. SBSS has launched a digital technology class to teach attendees how to use smartphones, computers, and the internet to access resources (telehealth, banking websites) and stay in touch with loved ones.
Before the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to participate in a few events at SBSS. What I witnessed made my heart sing. The participants, from different backgrounds, were sharing, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. You could tell they had become good friends and how much being at the Center meant to them. The isolation and loneliness of being an older adult had disappeared during the time they spent at SBSS. The staff interacted with the clients on an equal level; each respecting the other and having fun together. I was impressed by how much the staff cared about each person and tried to help each client individually.
The RCA grant supports the Emergency Women’s Fund. A few months ago, Barbara, a 75-year-old low-income senior, was assisted with the deposit and first month’s rent for a new apartment. She had been living in a small room with no bathroom or kitchen. She had called SBSS often because of the rats in the room she was living in. Gabriela, the case manager, helped her fill out the application for a lottery and helped with the follow-up process for a new apartment. Barbara’s gratitude and happiness at being in an apartment where she could feel safe and be able to cook was indescribable.
Rosa, a 74-year-old, was assisted with groceries. She lost her husband three months ago and the pain she was going through was heartbreaking. She has no family or friends in this country. Rosa was denied survivor’s benefits and denied the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants. Gabriela is trying to figure out a way for her to qualify. In the meantime, SBSS was able to purchase groceries for Rosa (milk, fruit, vegetables, and chicken). She was also referred to the nutrition program at SBSS for future food assistance. Rosa was so grateful and stated that SBSS was the first organization to be kind and attentive to her needs. She is feeling less hopeless thanks to the support by SBSS and the grant from the Ebell.
Watch out for more news this month about how you can help support St Barnabas Social Services.