Preserving Memories Great Opportunity to Share Stories

Some activities are special, and the recent “Preserving Memories” Event at On Lok’s 30th Street was just such an event.  Nearly 20 seniors with memories to share were greeted by two teams of interested and engaged seniors from Lick-Wilmerding High School and given the opportunity to preserve their memories and share them with friends and loved ones.  The event was made possible by the generous donation of scanning equipment and day-long technical assistance from Fujitsu.  The San Francisco Tech Council, with support from the Community Living Campaign (CLC), helped organize and promote the event.   If you would like this Preserving Memories event to come to your senior or community center, contact Marie Jobling at (415) 821-1003 ex. 101 or email marie@sfcommunityliving.org. 

Seniors Stand Strong With Each Other and Against Breast Cancer

This year, women and their supporters gather at the Lutheran Church of Our Savior for the 7th Annual Breast Cancer Luncheon.  This year’s guest speaker, Elisaa Hallen, RN, Diabetes Educator and Group Exerciser leader, got participants to their feet in keeping with the event ‘s theme, “A Healthy Lifestyle – Move to Improve”.   Good fellowship, great food (courtesy of Glide) and raffle prizes topped off an luncheon awash in pinkness.   For more information about the LCOS monthly Breast Cancer Support group, contact Barbara Tate at lcos@sbcglobal.net.  For information about other activities in the OMI neighborhood, contact Deb Glen at  debglen1@gmail.com. 

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CLC Annual Award Event 2017

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Good Neighbors: Delfina Pelayo

Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor Delfina as our 2017 Good Neighbor Honoree for the Cayuga Community Connectors Neighborhood Network.

Delphina brings in one of her cakes to celebrate a neighbor's birthday.

“Defina’s joie de vivre overflows into enthusiasm for the work and events of Cayuga Community Connectors, warm hugs and fabulous baked goods…She infuses our growing community with excitement about being alive, learning new things and caring about each other.”

Delfina Pelayo’s cakes are often the centerpiece of conversations and coffee after Monday morning exercise classes at Bethel Church. A photo album shows the various cakes she’s made for family birthday parties or on-the-job special events.

But it wasn’t only her cakes that earned Del the Good Neighbor award, an honor bestowed by the Community Living Campaign. The CLC sponsors programs to improve the lives of senior and disabled neighbors. One of them is Community Connectors, which brings neighborhood people together to determine what kind of services and activities they want and tries to make them happen.

Del keeps the key to the community hall at Bethel Church where the Cayuga Community Connectors meet. She opens the building before class so people can mingle and socialize, while she sweeps and helps set up chairs. Del drives members to doctor’s appointments, visits the sick, and delivers groceries to shut-ins. Celebrants proudly wear crowns and necklaces she forms from origami-folded dollar bills.

And she doesn’t just make cakes to share; her Filipino dishes are a favorite at community events.

“It makes me happy to see people happy,” Del said.

Del’s involvement extends beyond appreciating the happiness of others. She’s always there, ready to help” – even the neediest of people, said Patti Spaniak, CLC’s Neighborhood Network Development Manager. 

Finding Community

The Connectors added a lot to her life, too. Del has lived in Cayuga for almost 50 years, raising four children and caring for her ‘miracle baby’ grandson, now a strapping 14-year-old who visits often. But when she first moved in, it didn’t feel much like a neighborhood.

Delfina and Joe dancing at a Cayuga Connectors potluck

“Before, when I’d walk down the street, I would see people and never say hello. Now we’re all happy to see each other.”

“Before, when I’d walk down the street, I would see people and never say hello. Now we’re all happy to see each other.”

The Connectors has also filled a life once taken up with work and raising family.

She’s excited about a new class on memoir writing. That’s on top of classes on health and disaster preparedness as well as special events, intergenerational program and field trips. Then there are the visits to homebound neighbors and escort service when needed. Still, she’s not so busy that she didn’t find time to start another program – a prayer group at her house with her new friends from the program.

 “Defina’s joie de vivre overflows into enthusiasm for the work and events of Cayuga Community Connectors, warm hugs and fabulous baked good,” said Glenda Hope, whose desire to know her neighbors led her to found Cayuga Community Connectors. “She is one of those people I am always happy to see and I know everyone else feels the same way. She infuses our growing community with excitement about being alive, learning new things and caring about each other.”

Del was one of Hope’s first recruits, joining the Connector’s first program, an exercise class.

“Glenda welcomed me. Maybe 10 people were attending the Always Active exercise class when I started,” she said. “Now all my friends are here.”

Good Neighbors: Dignity Dog

My friends “started calling me Dignity Dog. I’m happy to answer to that.”

Each year, our Good Neighbor Awards honor some of the dedicated neighbors who volunteer their time to help seniors and people with disabilities get the resources and support they need to age and thrive in their own homes and neighborhoods. We are delighted to honor Dignity Dog (and the many people who helped Dignity Dog make so many appearances) as our 2017 Good Neighbor Honoree for organizing and advocacy!

One of the unsung heroes of a campaign to guarantee services for seniors and people with disabilities in San Francisco was a fluffy brown and white dog with bright black eyes.  In the dog’s own words, here’s how it came about:

“One day I was lying around with nothing to do and no one to play with. I kept hearing my person talking about some fun. Finally! My mental commands were having an effect. So when she headed out the door, I tagged along.

“Dogs know we all need to look out for one another. We’re part of the caring communities that make San Francisco a great place to live.”

Boy was I fooled. It turns out they were talking about a fund – The Dignity Fund. Hundreds of volunteers and more than 60 community agencies worked to get this charter amendment passed. It locks in funding every year for services for that population, and was supported by almost 67 percent of San Francisco voters in the November 2016 election.

So, where was the fun? Well, everybody seemed happy to see me, so I just kept coming back. We visited community centers, senior programs, lunch programs, rallies – wherever seniors and people with disabilities hung out

All these people – old people, young people, famous and not so famous people – thought I was cute. They all wanted to have their picture taken with me, and then they sent these photos around on social media. While I don’t like to brag, I might have been the most photographed member of the campaign team. That was pretty fun.

“While I don’t like to brag, I might have been the most photographed member of the campaign team. That was pretty fun.”

In fact, they started calling me Dignity Dog. I’m happy to answer to that. I made a lot of new friends. Young children loved my inner puppy, and I gave older adults – some of whom seemed pretty glum when I walked in the room – something to smile about. 

And then, of course, we brought in new money, so now everyone is smiling. My new friends at the Department of Aging and Adult Services are planning a big outreach effort to determine how to spend the new Dignity Fund dollars. They’re keeping many of my other new friends busy answering their questions.

Seniors and people with disabilities really care about us dogs. Sometimes, we’re the only friends and family they have. Dogs know we all need to look out for one another. We’re part of the caring communities that make San Francisco a great place to live.

Just a reminder to all my friends out there: I’m still here and I’m ready to play.”