Depression, scratched out a living, raised a family.
Yet as time has hurtled forward in their lives, they have often found
themselves abandoned, without friends or companionship. Our toss-away
culture is more content to warehouse them instead of engage them. We're
just too busy swilling our lattes and managing our portfolios.
All of which is why the Costa Mesa Senior Center is a beacon in our
community. Here these great folks who paved the road before us find
friendship and conversation, education and entertainment. They can find a
hot meal or a ride to the doctor's office. They learn how to operate
computers and manage their finances. They organize and take trips
together. They're just trying to squeeze every last ounce of life that
they can. Now if we were to spend a moment noodling with some
appreciation on what these things would mean to us in the sunset of our
lives (and it's coming), it is a wonder why each year the Costa Mesa
Senior Center has to crawl through the trenches and over barbed wire to
fund its operations. Nevertheless, it does.
Aviva Goelman, the center's executive director, runs herself nearly
ragged chasing down grants and corporate contributions. Goelman launched
the senior center's capital campaign in November, announcing an ambitious
target of $100,000. As you read this, $65,000 has come in with just a
month left in the campaign. That's not good enough in my book.
So as I scanned the weathered but knowing faces of those seniors
attending the volunteers luncheon Friday -- the folks who find sanctuary
and meaning at the Costa Mesa Senior Center -- I guessed at what
contributions they made to our country and our community throughout their
lives. "We owe these folks," I remember thinking.
So do you. Now, go mail that envelope.
* BYRON DE ARAKAL is a writer and communications consultant. He lives
in Costa Mesa. His column runs Wednesdays. Readers may reach him with
news tips and comments via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.