Issue 8 / Volume 1
January 2020
Carrie Blanding
Dear Friends,

Please join me in welcoming our new Executive Director, Caitlin Sly! Caitlin’s first day at MOW Diablo Region will be next week, and we couldn’t be happier to have her on the team. We know she will be the perfect person to lead MOW Diablo Region into the future! Read below to learn more about Caitlin’s background.

But that’s not the only big news for the New Year! We are also thrilled to announce major new funding that will help us feed more seniors. 

For my part, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who have supported MOW Diablo Region over the past year. It has been my privilege to help guide MOW Diablo Region through its executive transition. In that time, I have seen these programs save lives with your support! Thank you!

Read on for more news and stories to inspire you for 2020! 

  • We welcome our new Executive Director, Caitlin Sly
  • Crescent Porter Hale Foundation grant to fund MOW Diablo Region grocery bag home delivery project
  • $30 Million funding increase recently signed into law for senior nutrition programs
  • A Share the Spirit Story - funding means home is safer for Connie and Martin Lau
  • A Habit of Giving - thanks to corporate donors, café guests didn't go hungry during closures
  • A shout out to the Walmart stores in San Ramon, Martinez and Pittsburg for their donations
Carrie Blanding
Interim Executive Director
Meals on Wheels Diablo Region is pleased to announce that Caitlin Sly will lead the organization through our next stage of growth as its new Executive Director. Sly comes to MOW Diablo Region with strong management and leadership skills as well as extensive experience with and understanding of the obstacles of food security many elderly in the Diablo Region face on a daily basis.

In her previous position as the Program Director at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Sly developed a deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities to overcome food insecurity, and the growing needs of seniors in Contra Costa County. She developed nine new programs during her tenure at the Food Bank and oversaw two programs focused particularly on seniors. Sly made innovative changes to the Food Bank’s Senior Food Program, which provides free groceries, twice a month to low-income individuals who are 55 or older.

In addition to her work at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Sly has served as the President of the Concord Chamber of Commerce, successfully guiding that organization through its own executive transition. She also sits on several committees throughout Contra Costa and Solano counties addressing nutrition and food access in low-income communities. In these capacities, and in her 11 years at the Food Bank, Sly has worked extensively with many of the organizations that MOW Diablo Region currently partners with. She holds a degree in Latin American History from UC Davis, and speaks fluent Spanish.
“We conducted a comprehensive E.D. search and are fortunate to have Caitlin join Meals on Wheels Diablo Region as its new Executive Director,” says Christine Scimia, MOW Diablo Region Board President. “She has a passion for and deep understanding of our work. Under her leadership, MOW Diablo Region will continue to grow and serve seniors who so desperately need our meals and wrap-around services to remain safe and healthy at home.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the outstanding team at MOW Diablo Region. I have been so impressed by the amazing work MOW Diablo Region does and feel honored to be a part of it,” says Sly. “I look forward to helping this great organization continue to grow its impact in service of seniors.”

Every day for the last 50 years MOW Diablo Region has provided the support that allows Contra Costa County’s most vulnerable older adults to remain healthy and independent. Close to 10,000 people every year call us looking for help. For each of our clients, trained staff makes a holistic assessment of life needs. This coordinated care service approach allows us to not only assess a client’s situation, but to then provide links to a broad network of support services from nutrition to social interaction to fall prevention to health and wellness. Our goal is to empower older adults to live independently and with dignity in their homes for as long as possible.

Sly will begin serving as MOW Diablo Region’s Executive Director effective January 21, 2020.
Meals on Wheels Diablo Region is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $450,000 three-year grant from the Crescent Porter Hale Foundation to provide home delivered groceries to homebound seniors in Contra Costa County. This new program will be offered in coordination with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

For over 50 years, MOW Diablo Region has met the needs of the region’s most vulnerable seniors by delivering prepared nutritious meals. The agency also sponsors cafés in six communities five days a week to provide more mobile seniors a hot lunch and an opportunity for socialization and presentations on remaining healthy and safe. This grant award will address another pressing and real need in our community. 
At present, the Food Bank has a Senior Food Program where seniors can pick up grocery food bags twice a month. Under the grant, MOW Diablo Region will be recruiting drivers as well as leveraging the Food Bank’s access to healthy, nutritious food, and then delivering this food to low-income seniors who cannot drive.

By the end of the three-year grant period, MOW Diablo Region will have delivered close to 5,000 bags of groceries providing approximately 75,480 meals to this identified population of low-income seniors who cannot drive to the Food Bank.
In addition to the number of meals, the grant will have a profound impact in the lives of these vulnerable seniors. It is estimated that 80% of seniors participating in the project will have improved diets and health, and 75% will report reduced worries about aging in place.

MOW Diablo Region’s Nutrition Services Manager, Nancy Raniere explains, “It’s gratifying to know that this grant will not only give homebound seniors access to extra food, but it will also allow us to partner with the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano who have a long-standing commitment to meeting the nutritional needs of the elderly. This will take food distribution for seniors to the next level.”

Crescent Porter Hale Foundation believes in a thriving Bay Area community where those who are vulnerable and underserved receive the support they need to lead fulfilling lives. This grant is a new initiative from the foundation focused on providing targeted multi-year funding to local food organizations who work with a large number of low-income seniors.
We are so grateful for the outpouring of generosity we received in support of seniors this holiday season. Thanks to generous donations made by corporations, individuals and community partners, the holidays were made brighter for many vulnerable seniors.
For a second year in a row, MOW Diablo Region made sure that seniors who needed nourishing meals during the holiday closure of our Bay Point and Pittsburg Cafès received them by holding a month-long food drive. The food drive is a vital effort that provides grocery bags full of free, healthy groceries, and much needed household items to our most vulnerable guests. For many of our senior caf é guests, the hot lunch at the caf é is their only meal—so the holiday closure would have been a hardship.
We're tremendously grateful to AF Group, CompWest, and AssetMark staff for helping to make "shopping day" at the Bay Point and Pittsburg C.C. Caf és a success! The monetary and food donations from these three companies allowed us to offer a large array of healthy foods and other essential items that helped sustain our caf é regulars through the week-long closure, and staff members came out to help set up and distribute the groceries.

We had some very happy shoppers who left with big bags full of free groceries and we were left with peace of mind knowing that they received the nutrition they needed through the closure.
Meals on Wheels America commends Congress for passing, and the President for signing into law, the bipartisan Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, delivering much-needed funding increases to the nutrition programs that serve millions of our nation’s most vulnerable seniors annually. This action ends the months of uncertainty brought about by back-to-back temporary funding measures.

This spending package provides a $30 million increase to the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program over FY 2019 levels. By focusing on both the nutritional and social needs of seniors, the OAA Nutrition Program enables them to remain healthier, safer and independent in their own homes instead of being in far more costly healthcare settings. This in turn provides both a moral and an economic benefit to individuals, communities and our nation, as a whole. Building on the longstanding bipartisan support that exists for the OAA and investing further in its programs and services, as reflected in this legislation, represents a significant step forward in solving the growing epidemics of senior hunger and isolation among a rapidly aging population.

Continue reading here.
Connie and Martin are first generation Chinese immigrants. For 16 years they ran a popular Chinese restaurant in Antioch where they worked hard and saw the restaurant prosper. Then their lives changed drastically when Martin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Both are proud people and determined to live independently in their home while facing Martin’s illness, but it hasn’t always been an easy choice. Parkinson’s makes Martin very unsteady and he has fallen twice – once suffering a large gash on his forehead when he hit his head on the refrigerator. Connie recalls the frightening incident. “I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t lift him! He kept telling me not to bother anyone, but after a half hour I had to call the neighbors.”

Connie who loves to tend to the garden in her backyard has also suffered a couple of bad falls. In an incident last year, she fell as she stepped out of her living room onto the patio, and it resulted in a sprained knee and chronic back pain that lasted for months.

Connie and Martin recently had safety bars installed in their home thanks to funding from Share the Spirit East Bay, a program of the Bay Area News Group – East Bay Times, administered by the Contra Costa Crisis Center. Donations from the annual holiday campaign have helped support 49 nonprofit agencies in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties including MOW Diablo Region.
The funds received by MOW Diablo Region go toward home modifications to help seniors like Connie and Martin stay safe in their homes through a comprehensive safety assessment and installation of safety equipment including grab bars, a hand-held shower head, a shower seat, or bed rails.

During a recent visit, Connie proudly showed off the safety bars installed in the hallway, the bathroom and the door leading out to the backyard. “These are so great! Martin and I feel so much safer because we are able to steady ourselves with the bars. I’m not hesitant to go out to my patio and I worry less about Martin falling when I’m away from home.”

To learn more about MOW Diablo Region’s Fall Prevention program click here or contact Michele Alba,
We are excited to announce that MOW Diablo Region has received grants from Walmart Giving! The Walmart Community Grants Team and the San Ramon (5610), Pittsburg (1615) and Martinez (3493) stores recommended us for three separate grants to support our work with seniors.

By receiving this funding, we are proud to benefit from Walmart’s commitment to giving back to the communities where they operate. Mrs. Helen Walton, who started Walmart with her husband, always said: "It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.” Thank you to Walmart for helping seniors in our community live safer and healthier lives!
Welcome to the Meals on Wheels Diablo Region family of volunteers! Click here to see the list of our newest volunteers.
Discover alternative ways to stay active, healthy, and happy in our Artful Aging blog. Be sure to also check out the January 2020 schedule for our Health & Wellness activities.
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© Meals on Wheels Diablo Region 2019. All rights reserved.
Meals on Wheels Diablo Region
1300 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek, CA, 94596
United States