Serving Seniors: More than a Ray of Sunshine for Seniors in Poverty

By Paul Downey, President/CEO, Serving Seniors

The weather is close to perfect in San Diego, but for many seniors who have to choose between paying rent and buying food, it’s hardly paradise.  Since 1970, Serving Seniors has provided meals, health education, housing, and social services to the most vulnerable seniors in San Diego County.  Our innovative programs and services help seniors in poverty live healthy and fulfilling lives.

At the core of Serving Seniors is our robust meal program.  We provide a nutritious breakfast and lunch for low-income seniors every single day at The Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in downtown San Diego and five days a week at congregate dining sites throughout the county.  We also deliver meals to more than 500 home-bound seniors.  This works out to be more than 2,300 meals a day!

While many seniors come to The Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center for the daily meals, they soon discover a vibrant and high-energy center providing health care, lifelong learning opportunities, and supportive services.  We have two full-time Registered Nurses whose primary goal is to promote healthy aging and advocate for our clients’ health care needs through empowerment and education.  We also have a dedicated team of case managers who assist with a wide array of issues including affordable housing, transportation, and other problems that prevent many seniors from living independent and productive lives.

The Wellness Center fosters lifelong learning and fellowship. Seniors are encouraged to participate in classes such as cooking, crafting, fitness, and photography.  A unique civic engagement program assesses seniors’ skills and abilities and matches them with meaningful volunteer opportunities.  The Center also features a Cyber Café, an intergenerational experience where seniors learn how to use a computer and receive hands-on training conducted by at-risk high schools students.

If you are in the San Diego area, I invite you to take a tour of the Wellness Center and see first-hand why Serving Seniors has been recognized as a model for the rest of the country in providing innovative aging services for low-income seniors.  For more information, please visit

Paul Downey has been President/CEO of Serving Seniors for almost 21 years.  He also serves as the Vice-Chair of the California Commission on Aging and is the immediate Past President of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs based in Washington D.C.  He can be reached at:



1 Comment

  1. Sarai Hansen

    I love hearing about senior programs. I use to work at a senior center teaching fitness classes. It was very rewarding working with Seniors and seeing them form bonds and friendships. Is Serving Seniors solely government run? Or are there additional resources which help with meals, etc?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *