About 400 people filled the Bella Vida senior center Wednesday to receive service information, attend seminars and enjoy each others’ company with a free lunch as part of a resource fair hosted by the senior center and Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita.
To celebrate Senior Appreciation Day, she teamed up with the nonprofit to offer seniors, their families and caregivers a one-stop location to access resources such as the DMV, social services and the SCV Veterans Center, along with information sessions on fraud prevention, the REAL ID and CalFresh.
“Across the state, we have a sizable aging population and so that means we have a lot of people who are living on fixed incomes and need a lot of resources and support services that places like Bella Vida provide,” said Smith. “We also have seniors with mobility issues, so it made a lot more sense to us to bring all those resources under one roof, on one day for people to come in and be able to access easily.”
Transportation is an issue among older adults in the Santa Clarita Valley but Wednesday was different, according to Kathleen Keating, a service coordinator at retirement home Canterbury Village.
“Not only did (Smith) invite us when I mentioned that transportation is difficult for our residents, but she and ( senior center Executive Director) Kevin MacDonald got together and provided a shuttle for us,” she said. “So, we brought 23 seniors who would not normally be able to be here today. This is the first time that many of them have been here because of the transportation issue.”
The 19 agencies at the fair included Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Metrolink, AARP, Workforce Development Aging and Community Services, and state and Los Angeles County offices such as the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, which allowed attendees to test out the new voting system.
“One of the most interesting things here is the new voting machine. I’m interested in technology so this was great,” said Friendly Valley resident Ken Asam.
Since the new senior center opened in April, the number of visitors has doubled, MacDonald said, adding that “we gotta take advantage of this and to bring all these state and county agencies offering resources and information for free. What a gift to the seniors.”
Smith announced at the event that she would like to offer the resource fair at Bella Vida annually or every 18 months.