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Maria Gutzeit: 2012 brings new directions to Senior Center

Guest commentary

Posted: March 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 19, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The late Steve Jobs said, “The only people crazy enough to think they can change the world are those that do.” 

Even crazier — the concept that something new and exciting is happening at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, of all places. 

As president of the operating board, I have to say things are truly changing over at Market Street in Newhall. We’ve got a fabulous new executive director with both for-profit and nonprofit business experience. We’ve got a board full of business big wigs. And I think we’ve got a little “crazy” energy going too. Where are we headed? I have three personal goals for us in 2012. 1) transparent efficiency, 2) be a resource beyond our walls and 3) support those who want a mission in later life.

In these tough times, most nonprofits have suffered. 

The vast majority of the funding for the Senior Center activities is government funding, and that funding is constantly under threat. We need to not only find new, private funding sources but also clearly demonstrate we are top-notch service providers, able to provide great services for every dollar. 

I would like to see our service statistics and efficiencies tracked and presented annually on our website for all to see. I’d like to see a constant reduction in overhead, and an exploration of partnerships and fee-based services. 

I know little kids love grandparents, and some aren’t lucky enough to have grandparents nearby. How about a program that helps working parents with childcare and helps some seniors enjoy a little toddler-time? 

As government funding for adult day care is slashed, how about continuing to offer the service for a nominal fee? This program is invaluable for caregivers who need a break to attend to family business, and, if the need warrants, could be expanded even when faced with government cutbacks. The health care field is one with promising employment opportunities. Are we partnering with the hospital and college nursing programs in every way we could? Let’s explore all of these ideas and make sure the public knows about it.

To be  a resource to all of the Santa Clarita Valley, we need to be accessible and of service beyond the walls of our current home on Market Street. We need a current, usable website so folks of all ages can find information on senior issues in one place. 

How do you find a board-and-care facility? 

How do you get a dial-a-ride pass? 

What should you know when developing a power of attorney document? 

What services might your elderly parents qualify for? 

What many people think — but do not say — is that the senior center is only for the underprivileged.  Of course, that’s not true — and we have many varied types of clients that enjoy the programs. 

Let’s change that perception so that we can be seen as a resource for the “sandwich generation.”  Today, many families have two working adults, plus kids, and are faced with having to learn about Medicare, senior housing, geriatric health, and more. 

How do we help the working mom who has about 15 minutes to spare to figure out what prescription drug plan is best for her mother-in-law? 

How do we help seniors help their kids by setting up trusts and health care directives before it is too late? 

What do we tell people who are looking to relocate elderly parents to the SCV

Getting an AARP card (which showed up in our household mailbox this year) shouldn’t necessarily mean winding down if we don’t want to. 

Somehow, some way, I would like the senior center to be a conduit to services for those who frankly don’t want to admit they are seniors. A lot of us want to change the world and, hitting 50 or 60 or even 85 shouldn’t be a reason to stop trying. Perhaps we can help reignite a spark or two.

If you’ve got an idea, or want to get involved in a little Steve Jobs style craziness over at the Senior Center, please contact me. Together we can keep changing our corner of the world for the better.

Maria Gutzeit is President of the Board for the Committee on Aging, which operates the SCV Senior Center and provides services valleywide to those in need. She is an Santa Clarita resident, business owner, and elected official. Contact Gutzeit at or 661-310-6005


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