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San Diego non-profit provides assistance to fast growing homeless population, senior citizens



On this week of Thanksgiving, we’re featuring another local non-profit, that gives back to thousands every single day, all year long.


Serving Seniors provides two meals a day, and provides countless other resources for seniors in our community.


Serving Seniors is the largest provider of senior meals and senior services countywide. They also own and operate two shelters and 529 affordable housing units.


"Annually, we see almost 10,000 unduplicated seniors through our doors," President and CEO Paul Downey said.


Every year, they serve 1.5 million meals to our senior citizens, who they say, is the fastest growing homeless population. 


"It's a human issue, but it's also an economic issue. If we invest on the front end, and prevent it from happening in the first place, we will see a dramatic improvement in the numbers," Downey added.


About a quarter of the people who spend the day at this center, downtown are actively experiencing homelessness. Many sleep right outside.


"Unfortunately it is a growing trend here in San Diego.. Three in 10 people on the street, are now older adults," Downey said. "There's sort of a saying for life on the street, that 55 is the new 75, because of the physical and mental toll that it takes."


Paul Downey started at Serving Seniors as a volunteer. "I probably did a really bad job delivering the food, because I would stop and talk to folks," he said. Downey was so inspired by the good work happening there, he eventually became the President and CEO.


"To give them some fulfillment, give them some joy, to make them feel like they are part of an extended family -  I am pleased to say we do that every day," Downey said.


In addition to two hot meals, Serving Seniors provides countless resources.


"My personal experience has been incredible. It really has," Anthony Colon said.


"It's a safe haven for me, and a lot of the other guys" Fred Persaud said.


A team of social workers helped Colon with healthcare and housing. "Everything from movies on a Friday, and popcorn, yoga and a walking club," Colon added.


Persaud utilizes the services and volunteers in the kitchen. 


"I sleep right here, in front of the building, with about six to eight other seniors," he said. I've got a bad back, two bad knees and being it's winter - it gets worse. He said there are added elements to being a senior on the street. "You have drug users, you have people up and down the street, you don't get the rest you need," Persaud said.


A big part of their budget relies on donations. A generous $400,000 just recently came from San Diego Gas and Electric. 


"If you have four dollars, you can help pay for a meal, so you can make a difference," The President and CEO said.


Your time is just as precious. Volunteers are always appreciated.


A good way to really stretch your dollar the farthest is right around the corner. On this upcoming Giving Tuesday, your donation will be matched.


If you’d like to donate to Serving Seniors, any donation will be matched on Giving Tuesday, which is November 28.


Source: CBS 8



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