Mission Nonprofit Spotlight: Senior Services for South Sound

Each month, Thurston Community Media (TCMedia)’s Mission Nonprofit connects with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities. This month, Mission Nonprofit host Robert Kam sat down with Brian Windrope, the executive director of Senior Services for South Sound.

Founded in 1973, Senior Services for South Sound’s mission is to “improve the quality of life for people as they age so they can enjoy life to the fullest!” They are the second-largest senior services nonprofit in Washington State. As a fully comprehensive program, Senior Services offers everything from affordable in-home caregiver placement and senior transportation to leisure travel and Alzheimer’s and dementia programs.  As the provider for Meals on Wheels in Thurston and Mason counties, they have eight nutritional sites, as well as their two senior centers, one in downtown Olympia and one in Lacey.

Senior Services for South Sound has many unique programs, such as Brighter Days, an adult daycare program. “It’s a 24-7 job if you are taking care of them yourself,” Brian explains, “and often those people don’t get a break.” Brighter Days provides seniors a fun, safe time while giving the caregiver time to do things they can’t while caring for their loved one, he explains.

They also help with transporting seniors to medical appointments if they are not eligible for Dial-A-Ride or other programs. “There are seniors in Thurston County and Mason County who need advanced cancer treatment, for example, that they can only get in Seattle and we provide that transportation,” Brian shares. “Volunteers do that driving.”

Another very important service they provide includes vetting caregivers and helping match them with the right seniors based on what type of care is needed. This can really reduce stress on family members trying to make a decision on their own.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to services they offer. Currently, due to COVID-19, their two senior centers are closed and things like their trips and tours, BINGO nights and other more social activities are not happening, but they will be as soon as they can. Brian explains that some of these events are main fundraisers for Seniors Services for South Sound, which means they are not getting the monetary support they normally do while, at the same time, the pandemic has caused an uptick in need for their services.

Prior to the pandemic we had about 213 people or households who’ve received meals from us,” Brian shares, “and they would receive, usually one trip a week, we would take them a week worth of food. Some people would get enough food for two meals a day, most people just one meal a day. And then the pandemic hit and so immediately, all the people who used to come into our buildings to enjoy companionship, friendship, fun and activities, and get a health meal, couldn’t. And some of those people aren’t able to cook for themselves as well and they qualified for Meals on Wheels.” Their number of people needing food delivered went from 213 to over 500, and all are delivered by volunteers.

They have adapted quickly to the pandemic situation, and now have activities online, including virtual fitness classes, to help give seniors some of the fun and health they were receiving at the center, in the safety of their homes.

For more information, including how to get involved as a volunteer or to donate, watch the full video and visit the Senior Services for South Sound website.

You can watch Mission Nonprofit on channel 77 on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch on TCMedia.org, Video On-Demand or our Roku channel. To learn more about what TCMedia does, visit the Thuston Community Media YouTube channel or the TC Media website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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