A California Community Foundation initiative started by donors who wanted to contribute their social security checks to low-income seniors awarded $100,000 to four nonprofit organizations serving older adults.

The organizations include the Center for Healthy Aging based in Santa Monica, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Little Tokyo Service Center and Valley Interfaith Council, each of which received $25,000 to provide services to low-income seniors.

The Center for Healthy Aging in Santa Monica is a community-based agency founded in 1976 that provides health, mental health and social support services to older adults and their families and caregivers.

“Older adults are no longer perceived as a helpless population in need of assistance and are more empowered than ever to be active members of our communities,” says Antonia Hern·ndez, president and chief executive officer of the California Community Foundation.

“At the same time, we need to ensure that older adults can access services and the Secure Seniors Fund makes this possible,” Hern·ndez says.

The Secure Seniors Fund was established in January 2005 with the support of a Los Angeles couple, Jay and Linda Sandrich, who wanted to donate their annual social security payments to support nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles County serving older adults to help them maintain their independence.

“Often, when we have received our Social Security check, we have thought about how fortunate we are not to be dependent on that monthly check for our basic needs,” the couple wrote in a letter soliciting potential donors to contribute to the Secure Seniors Fund.

Many other donors have since given to the fund. The fund will assist people like Ellen (last name withheld to protect her privacy), according to a Secure Seniors Fund spokesman.

When Ellen’s mother began to have serious physical and cognitive problems, Ellen didn’t know what to do, the spokesman says.

“Getting appropriate help for my mother was completely new territory for me,” Ellen said.

She eventually found the Center for Healthy Aging and was able to access information and get help navigating these resources.

Today, Ellen’s mother is active and happily situated in an assisted living facility close to her daughter.

People are living longer today than they did when the Social Security Program was established, according to federal statistics.

Older adults will represent one-fifth of Los Angeles County’s population by 2030, and the demand and cost for medical care, personal in-home assistance and financial assistance are expected to skyrocket, according to county statistics.

Established in 1915, the California Community Foundation is based in Southern California and has assets of more than $1 billion.

California Community Foundation partners with donors and private and nonprofit entities to support nonprofit organizations in the areas of health care, neighborhood revitalization, education, human development and the arts.

The foundation awards grants of more than $100 million a year and manages more than 1,400 funds.

Information, Center for Healthy Aging, (310) 576-2550 or www.centerforhealthyaging .org; California Community Foundation, (213) 413-4130 or www.calfund.org

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