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Senior Center to get $156K to help those in need 

Flags decorate the parking lot of the Bella Vida Senior Center as car line up for their Memorial Day ceremony on Friday, May 22, 2020. Courtesy

Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center advocates were able to reap their rewards for months of hard work Tuesday, with the announcement of a $156,725 grant to support residents with disabilities. 

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a total allocation of $850,000 for the entire county, with the SCV Senior Center at Bella Vida to receive a little over 18% of that through what senior center Executive Director Kevin MacDonald described as a competitive process. 

The money from Linkages has filled a vital role in the community for the last dozen years or so, according to SuzAnn Nelsen, the center’s chief program officer, who helped lead the effort for the grant.  

The money acts as a sort of “safety net” that helps the center support an even broader population than most of its programming, which obviously is aimed at residents aged 55 and older. 

“Linkages is one of our care-management programs, but it’s unique in that it’s for disabled people 18 and older, as well as seniors,” Nelsen said. 

”That allows us, if needed, to purchase a service for someone,” she said, giving the example of a one-time boost for a resident who might have has a situation that caused them to be short on rent for a month, or “a medication that isn’t covered under their insurance or a microwave because they can’t cook their frozen foods. It could be anything that’s a necessity.” 

Nelsen said the center is able to award such help once a year to a client. 

The entire 5th District is eligible to apply, she noted, so in the past the funds have been spread throughout Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s jurisdiction, which stretches to Covina.  

The county’s Aging and Disabilities Department reviews the applications every four years, and they’re renewable on a competitive, month-to-month basis over the term of the award, which is a total of $4.675 million among all the applicants. 

The process behind securing the grant included hundreds of pages of documentation and “a lot of work,” according to MacDonald.  

“I mean, weeks and weeks went into preparing this application — and I support the county and you know, really digging in deep to make sure they get qualified applicants — and when we applied for it, we had our information together and ready to go,” he added. 

Barger said she supported the program’s funding because of its potential for a huge positive impact to those living in the 5th District who are most in need, and to help them “continue living independently and with dignity,” she said in a statement sent via text from Helen Chavez, her director of communications, following Tuesday’s meeting.  

“I voted to award funding to the county’s Linkages Program today because of the big impact it makes on the lives of some of my most vulnerable constituents, including the elderly and medically frail,” she wrote. “Its case management services are lifesaving to community members who are isolated and have no one in their lives to help them access care that can quickly become more complex.” 

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