Social Services in Scottsdale

By Chris Rivera, Class 26
Project Manager, DMB Associates

The City of Scottsdale’s two senior centers, Granite Reef and Via Linda, are described on the city’s website as an “integrated system of services, resources and opportunities to help people improve their lives, neighborhoods and community through recreation, social services and health and wellness services.” I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at Granite Reef Senior Center and was amazed by the breadth of its services.

The Granite Reef Senior Center’s goal is to provide avenues of connection through the diverse services, groups, and activities they operate as an all‐inclusive conduit for senior adults in the south Scottsdale community. Judging by the variety of food programs available to seniors at the center or through ancillary social services programs, it is clear that the city is committed to providing nutritious meals to seniors in a setting that is most comfortable to them. The programs include bread distribution, home delivered meals, congregate meals, and the ability to pick‐up bagged groceries one day a week. I participated in the grocery bag program, called Scottsdale Brown Bag Gleaners, and in Granite Reef’s lunch time food program.

The Scottsdale Brown Bag Gleaners program runs every Thursday year‐round with the exception of July and August. I met up with other volunteers at the Via Linda Senior Center to pack brown bags full of groceries delivered by truck via St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix. The mix of volunteers ranged from young to mature, some of whom were volunteering so that they could receive a bag of groceries for their efforts. I was struck by how organized the process was and the anticipation of what type of food that would be delivered that day. I was told that on good days the bags will be overflowing with fresh vegetables, bread and canned goods. The day I was there the selection seemed to fall somewhere in the middle. As I packed groceries I imagined the seniors who would receive them and hoped that some of the goodies would bring a smile to their faces. When all of the bags were packed we drove over to the Granite Reef Center to unload and distribute the bags of groceries. It happened to be raining that morning and business was slow because many of the seniors at the center do not have cars. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with the staff and the other volunteers. I met some interesting new people and hopefully contributed to making someone’s day a little bit better.

I also helped set‐up, serve, and clean‐up during the congregate meal at the Granite Reef Center. The Tempe Community Action Agency provides a hot nutritious meal at the Center Monday through Friday.  The lunch service was also very organized and several volunteers work during lunch every day. I chatted with some of the seniors about their day and their experiences at the center. I struck up a conversation with “June” who was looking at travel books while she was waiting for lunch to be served. I learned that she walks three miles to the center every day so that she can use the library, eat lunch, and catch‐up with her friends. This is especially significant considering that she had little use of one leg and required the use of a modified cane that looked a bit like a crutch. As the volunteers cleaned up the tables, June blushed when I came to her table because she was embarrassed about how much she was eating. Leftovers were available that day and she was taking full advantage of that. We both laughed and I could see that she was happy to be having a big meal. I enjoyed volunteering during the lunch service and hope to return and get to know some of the other regulars at the center.

I also spent some time talking to Tim Miluk, Human Services Manager at the Granite Reef Senior Center. Tim gave me a tour of the center and explained some of the programming available to the seniors. It was clear that there are many additional services Tim would like to offer if funds existed. Community leaders could make a big impact by offering pro‐bono professional services such as legal advice, estate planning/will preparation, technology consulting, etc. Some of these services are available at the center in a limited manner, but they could definitely benefit from additional resources.

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