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Will You Still Need Me?


By Gregory Kepferle

Chief Executive Officer
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing


Maybe it’s because my beard is getting grayer, or maybe it’s because I recently had a birthday where I was serenaded with a Beatle’s song including the lyrics, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me…” If you are humming along, you know what I mean. Regardless, I have been reflecting lately on what it means to get older in our society. By some measures, seniors are healthier and living longer than in previous generations.

At the same time, more seniors are living alone and in deep poverty. With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, there will be more seniors and family members needing support navigating the aging process, financial security, social security and retirement benefits, wellness and health care, insurance, food, and housing. In our individualistic society a great challenge for many seniors is not just survival, but that of social isolation and the need for community.

And perhaps, even more, the desire “to be of use.”

At Catholic Charities, we serve over 12,000 seniors a year.

We are the Long-Term Care Ombudsman for each senior and disabled person in the hundreds of nursing homes and board and care facilities in the county. Thanks to our highly-trained staff and volunteers (including many seniors themselves) we protect the dignity and the rights of residents, trouble-shoot and mediate conflicts.

We provide a break for caregivers and help seniors with disabilities stay safe and engaged during the day through our two adult day care programs at Saint Francis of Assisi Parish in San José and at First United Methodist Church in Sunnyvale. Catholic Charities provides a strong sense of community, enrichment and wellness activities for seniors at Eastside Neighborhood Center and John XXIII Multi-service Center in San José. (These are such joyful communities. Be ready to dance if you visit either site.) We also provide seniors nutritious hot noon meals with the help of generous volunteers like those from the Order of Malta and high school students from Catholic schools. We provide Geriatric Aide training to help workers get jobs helping seniors through in-home care or adult day care.

Through Charities Housing, we provide safe, beautiful and affordable apartment homes to seniors with limited means on fixed incomes. For grandparents caring for grandchildren, we offer guidance and peer support through our Kinship Resource Center. And we value the leadership and engagement of community elders in the Franklin-McKinley Children’s Initiative and with our Family Resource Centers’ Gen-to-Gen program.

Recently when talking with seniors at Catholic Charities Eastside Neighborhood Center, I heard comments like “this is my home” or “here we are family” and “I like it here because I’m not alone. They listen to us.”

I invite you to meet Catholic Charities seniors and listen to their amazing stories. You may want to volunteer or even put on your own dancing shoes.

For more information about how you can help support our Older Adult Services please visit our website, www.CatholicCharitiesSCC.org.