The Bella Vida Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center has prepared and delivered more than 100,000 meals to local seniors since the onset of the pandemic, and with a check of $475,000 from the city, residents will continue to be fed, officials said Friday.
Outside of the center on Golden Valley Road, City Council members and staff presented the check as part of the city’s annual commitment to support the SCV Committee on Aging to fund programs ranging from meals to transportation.
“We know what challenges have faced our community, and certainly the challenges hit the Senior Center, which has really been such a key part of our community, as well as the day-to-day support for our seniors and not having the ability to come and utilize all of the activities, over the last six months has really been impacted,” said Mayor Cameron Smyth during the check presentation, calling the decision something the council “didn’t even have to think twice on.”
Every year, the city allocates a similar amount to the committee. Last year’s funds went toward serving more than 44,200 people through the Senior Center’s recreation, health and wellness program; providing 4,400 bus trips for medical and food shopping; and serving 77,400 meals to homebound residents and more than 100,000 total at their various outreach sites and via drive-thru service amid the pandemic, according to city officials.
With an additional $475,000 allocated from the city’s 2020-21 budget, funds will go mainly toward food expenses, as meals are one of the most vital services the Senior Center offers, especially during the COVID-19 health crisis, according to board President Elizabeth Hopp.
“I worked a couple times for lunch and just to see people come through,” she said, “they’re just so happy to have some human contact during these times.”
Support from the city is what keeps those operating the Senior Center feeling “empowered,” said Kevin MacDonald, the center’s executive director.
“It really makes a difference because then we feel empowered to serve the seniors even more,” he said. “Whatever the seniors want in this community we feel an obligation to step up and make sure they get what they need in this community because we have people supporting us and backing us.”