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ElderHelp honors volunteers who champion San Diego County seniors

Jeff Zevely will host ElderHelp's 'Essence of Life Awards and Charity Auction' on Sunday, March 19.

SAN DIEGO — Seniors living alone in San Diego County may have hundreds of friends they're unaware of. In this Zevely Zone, I preview ElderHelp's Essence of Life Awards and Charity Auction that takes place on Sunday March 19th at the Southwestern Yacht Club. 

For over 49 years, ElderHelp's mission has been to support seniors living independently in their homes with dignity. Last year the organization impacted the lives of over 7,000 seniors and their families. "90% of us say that we do want to stay in our own homes as we age and get older if we can and most of can't afford the means of long-term care," said Deb Martin, the CEO of ElderHelp.

Deb had a special connection with her mother Jane as she aged into her 80's, as I did with my Grandmother Ethl.

Credit: ElderHelp of San Diego

My grandmother's husband (my grandfather) died in a car crash. Following the tragedy, my grandmother lived alone for most of her life. My dad, mother, sister and I helped my grandma live alone for decades. "She probably could not have done that without you either and it's so hard for people to imagine what it's like if people don't have family and what does it look like if they don't have a Jeff or a Deb showing up," said Deb.

ElderHelp creates a customized plan for every senior by providing food, transportation, home maintenance and sometimes just a friend. "Once we get to a certain age especially because we are isolated living at home," said Deb.  

Credit: ElderHelp of San Diego

Chris Mirsky, ElderHelp's transportation coordinator, told me hundreds of volunteers deliver food to seniors in 40 San Diego County zip codes. "Amazing group of people who have stepped up in an absolutely incredible way," said Chris.

Credit: ElderHelp of San Diego

This Sunday, Deb Martin and I will co-host ElderHelp's Essence of Life Awards and Charity Auction. We will honor their award-winning volunteers and corporate sponsors. 

That same team spirit comes alive every December with ElderHelp's Holiday Angels program. Volunteers visit seniors across the county and give them poinsettias and gifts. I used to give my grandmother a poinsettia on Christmas too. It's people like Deb Martin who love every senior like their own family members. "I just do, for the same reasons that you mentioned," said Deb with tears in her eyes.  

Credit: ElderHelp of San Diego

According to ElderHelp the senior population is expected to double between now and 2030. ElderHelp says research shows one in ten seniors is food insecure. ElderHelp's proactive and preventive services help seniors live more healthy and independent lives—in their homes. Services like friendly visiting, daily check-in calls, grocery shopping or deliveries, rides to the doctor, housing resources—all of these services reduce isolation and the risk of falls in the home. They improve nutrition and keep seniors engaged in the community and in life.

The Sunday, March 19th, event offers live music and an online auction that donors can get a jump start on right now. For information visit www.elderhelpofsandiego.org.

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