Cayuga Community Connectors Receives Honor as Model Program for Seniors

Cayuga Community Connectors' members who graduated from a Fire Department training program pose for a picture. Photo by Patti Spaniak

The Cayuga Community Connectors recently learned that they are being honored with an Aging Innovations and Achievements Award from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

The program was nominated by the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services’s Program Analyst Linda Murley.

In explaining why Cayuga deserved the award, Murley wrote that the program had built: “[A] network of neighborhood volunteers to support seniors and people living with disabilities remain safely in their homes.”

All volunteers and neighbors are connectors and all volunteer services are free. Volunteer support can include help with chores or socialization, or classes at a nearby church or in a neighbor’s home.

A local resident serves as a paid Community Connector; developing the volunteer/connector cohort, planning activities and acting as program cheerleader.

Neighborhood residents serve as an advisory board and help keep the program relevant to participant needs.

To age in community with optimum wellbeing more than home healthcare services are needed: help with grocery shopping or mowing the lawn, a ride to the local museum or the dentist, a friendly visit; these are all supports that can be provided by volunteers and enable a senior to live independently longer.

For a neighborhood that does not have a traditional senior center, a network of neighborhood volunteers is an exciting alternative.

On July 31, Patti Spaniak, the paid community connector, along with a representative from the DAAS, will travel to Savannah, Georgia to receive the award.

Good Design:

San Francisco State University Design Program graduate students addressing how to enable older adults to live their best possible lives by preventing falls.

For the past two months, students in Professor of Design Ricardo Gomes’ seminar have been meeting with neighborhood seniors to understand their challenges around mobility and their fear of falling to better design products for them.

Nahla Khogeer and Jeannie Llewellyn met with the Cayuga Community Connectors after one of their Monday morning exercise classes.

After expressing amazement at the “good condition of the group,” the students listened to the seniors as they described the difficulties they and their friends face in getting in and out of cars and using walkers or rollators.

Khogeer and Llewellyn recently presented their final designs in class and will soon share them with the CCC seniors. Eventually the pair will submit their project to a Stanford university design contest.

Gomes is the director of the Design Center for Global Needs in the Design and Industry Department, a non-profit international research and development center dedicated to promoting responsive design solutions to local, regional and global issues. He welcomes seniors and senior groups with whom his students can test their ideas.

Earthquake Safety Fair:

On Thursday, June 15, the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection will host the 2017 Earthquake Safety Fair at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, located at 99 Grove St.

This free afternoon event will feature informative workshops, exhibitor booths and a free raffle.

It’s an opportunity for property owners to meet with various city agencies, contractors, design professionals and financial institutions to answer building, fire and earthquake safety questions! Visit for more information.

OMI Senior Center News:

A new Hawaiian Dance Class meets on Mondays, from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Philippine Independence Day will be celebrated with lunch and activities on Monday, June 12, from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Two ESL classes are now offered. The class for beginners with limited English skills meets on Mondays, from 12:30 – 2 p.m.

The class for more advanced speakers meets on Wednesdays, from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. The Center is located at 65 Beverly St. All activities are free with the exception of lunch, which costs $2.

I.T. Bookman Center News:

If you’ve always meant to start exercising, but found excuses to hold off, there is still space in the Always Active program.

Classes meet Mondays, from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. and Thursday, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

The center is piloting a memoir writing class during the months of May and June, Executive Director Kristin Rosboro said.

If the class is successful, and she believes it will be, they will bring in back in the fall. The center is located at 446 Randolph St.

Senior Spotlight columnist Judy Goddess can be reached at

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