Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Senior Commissioners Sworn-in And Briefed

The new (well, mostly new, since Gary Parkin and Lee Ramos were re-appointed after serving on the commission previously) Costa Mesa Senior Commission met this morning just after sunrise - that's how 9:00 a.m. felt to me, anyhow - at the Costa Mesa Senior Center for the first time for this group.
Costa Mesa City Clerk Brenda Green was on hand to swear-in the commissioners and to facilitate the selection of a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson.  The human energizer bunny, Charlene Ashendorf, was chosen unanimously by her peers as Chairperson.  Darrell Neft was chosen as Vice Chairman, but not without a little drama.  Gary Parkin nominated Lee Ramos as Vice Chair, but he failed to receive a second from the remaining four members.  Neft was nominated, seconded and was elected unanimously.  The commission is one person short because appointee Olga Reynolds resigned before being sworn-in due to the drama surrounding the selection process.  Recruitment for that position has begun and a new commissioner will be chosen before the next meeting - two months from now.

So, Ashendorf and Neft will lead commissioners Alexa Merchant, Gary Parkin, Lee Ramos and Barbara Steck as they move forward to provide guidance and oversight for Senior activities in our city.  I wish them the best of luck.

While awaiting additional staff information each of the commissioners introduced themselves to their peers and to the small group of attendees - there were nine of us today.

Gary Parkin presented himself as a retired General Motors engineer and volunteer on the previous commission and other committees.

Alexa Merchant is a first-time volunteer, a Registered Nurse who works in geriatrics and is enthusiastically looking forward to bringing her skills to the Senior Commission.

Darrell Neft, a resident since 1966, attended UCI and worked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard until it closed as an engineer.

Lee Ramos described himself as a long time resident and retiree.  He also is a returnee to the commission and has participated in other city committees.

Barbara Steck has lived in Costa Mesa since 1960 and is looking forward to helping guide senior issues.

Charlene Ashendorf has been active in many city committees for many years and has worked in the private non-profit sector in senior leadership roles - and it showed.

During Public Comments Lisa Knowles, a volunteer with the CMPD, inquired about the operations of the senior transportation process which operates out of the Senior Center.  She has been unable to use it to be transported from home to her volunteer work at the Police Headquarters due to unreliability of scheduling.
Senior Center Program Administrator Yvette Aguilar provided the commission an overview of the current One, Three and Five Year Goals and Objectives as cobbled together by the previous iteration of this commission over many months.  The following series of slides provides you with a thumbnail of her presentation.
Following that presentation Aguilar provided the commissioners with her Senior Center Program Administrator's Report, in which she outlined many of the statistics of Senior Center activities.  For example, there are now 1,387 members of the Senior Center.  She spoke about past and upcoming events - the 3rd Annual Knowledge & Health Fair Expo at the Senior Center tomorrow from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. A large turnout is expected for this event.  On Friday there will be a St. Patrick's Day luncheon.

During Commissioner Comments most of the commissioners acknowledged being overwhelmed by the staff presentations.

Ramos expressed an interest in exploring a Senior Day at City Hall and wondered if there is a staff report available regarding how to proceed in the event of a Massive Emergency at the Senior Center.  He also suggested to his peers that they attend the many social events at the Center and move from table to table to meet members and gather their ideas.

Neft wondered if some of the Senior Center programs overlap with those offered at the library and whether there is public WIFI available at the Center.  Yes, there is.  He also wondered if there is volunteer assistance to seniors having electronic problems.  He also wondered about reading old radio program scripts and/or listening to old radio program recordings.  He also suggested a "Senior Commissioner ID Badge", so folks could identify them as they moved around the Center.

Merchant wondered if there is value in delegating a specific topic or segment of activities to an individual commissioners, who would be the focus of questions and become a subject expert and report activities and questions to the other commissioners?  She also wondered about the workload for the part-time social worker who attends to the Senior Center needs.

Parkin thanked the staff for all their hard work.  As he put it, "There's a lot of work being done here."  He wondered if all members must now use their ID cards for entry or sign-in?  The answer was yes.  He also asked if he could arrange for a ride-along with the Meals on Wheels staff.

Steck wondered if the Senior Center communicates via email or just mail.

Ashendorf suggested the commissioners visit the art gallery and enjoy the exhibits.  She also suggested they try to attend meetings of the Senior Advisory Committee to become informed about their activities.  She reminded all of the April 8th Members Social coming up.  She also proudly directed them to the "wrapped" utility boxes around the city, including one near the Center.  She also suggested strengthening the content of The Chronicle to include recent information about Veterans, Elder Abuse and other senior issues.  She also suggested participating in the upcoming Costa Mesa Community Run on April 22nd.  Recreation Manager Justin Martin remarked that last year was the first time members of the Senior Center participated and that the Senior Center will pay the admission for any Seniors wishing to participate this year, either running, walking or whatever...
In response to the question about the transportation issues, Aguilar advised that they have a new staffer on board with that responsibility and they are monitoring the program to improve it.  Their first responsibility is to get seniors to and from the center.

The meeting wrapped up just after 10:00 a.m.  The next meeting will be Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

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