2017-05-18 / Family

Love Run fuels Meals on Wheels

Fundraiser critical to program’s success
By Becca Whitnall

‘MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER’—Facing the threat of reduced federal aid, the local Meals on Wheels program is hoping proceeds from Senior Concerns’ June 4 Love Run will provide a critical boost. 
ACORN FILE PHOTO ‘MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER’—Facing the threat of reduced federal aid, the local Meals on Wheels program is hoping proceeds from Senior Concerns’ June 4 Love Run will provide a critical boost. ACORN FILE PHOTO Funding losses, or even the possibility of disappearing grants, can make any nonprofit feel like the roof is caving in, but for one local organization, the worry is as much literal as it is figurative.

Senior Concerns provides resources for the elderly and their families, including day care for adults with memory loss and/ or dementia. The nonprofit is stuck in limbo along with other organizations that rely heavily on federal funding.

Because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is facing potential cuts, cities like Thousand Oaks have held off on distributing grants that Senior Concerns relies on to help pay the bills.

Making matters worse, the nonprofit’s base of operations on Hodencamp Road suffered serious rain damage earlier this year.

“This has been my heart for 10 years, and in those 10 years we’ve never had rain like we did this year,” said Andrea Gallagher, the organization’s president. “We had water coming in from everywhere, from the light fixtures and cracks in the roof.”

Some carpeting now has ripples, increasing the possibility of falls. And while the roof tiles are mostly in good shape, the material they lie on is not.

“It’s like parchment paper,” Gallagher said.

As expenses rise, so has the demand for Senior Concerns’ services, making fundraisers like its annual Love Run—which turns 25 this year—critical to the nonprofit’s mission, she said.

“It would be one thing if we were the kind of organization that had a huge reserve to bring the building back up to where it should be, but we’re not,” Gallagher said. “It’s an uncertain time, and that’s why (the run) is more important than ever.”

This year’s run is Sun., June 4.

The race in Westlake Village raises money specifically for Senior Concern’s Meals on Wheels program, which provides about 100 meals daily, year-round, to both long-term and short-term clients who are unable to shop or cook for themselves.

“In particular with Meals on Wheels, part of our funding comes from a block grant from the City of Thousand Oaks, and it’s a pretty significant block of money that we don’t even know if we’ll be getting yet,” Gallagher told the Acorn. “The money has not been delivered (from the federal government) yet, so they haven’t even determined who it will be awarded to.”

Senior Concerns also receives city grants from Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Simi Valley, Westlake Village and the county’s Area Agency on Aging, but those funds are used for the organization as a whole, not Meals on Wheels.

The run

The course of the Love Run is suited to runners of various skill levels, with a half-marathon, a 10K, a 5K and a 1-mile run.

It’s partly a road race and partly a trail run, said Stephanie Marlin, who’ll be participating for the fifth time.

“Because it’s a little road and a little trail, it’s a lot of fun,” said the 53-year-old Westlake Village resident, who will run the 5K. “We call it the Love-Hate Run because it’s challenging, so you love and hate it at the same time.”

For participants like Marlin, it’s all about the cause.

“What I really like is that, for this particular race, it’s local and, truly, the money is going back to the community,” she said. “And we’re all going to use Meals on Wheels’ services, whether it’s for you, your parents or someone else in your family or friends.”

Nearly 70 members of Marlin’s Tuesday Tribe trail running group have signed up. Another 40 in a second organization she belongs to have also registered.

Registration is $80 for the half-marathon, $45 for the 10K and 5K, and $35 for the mile run.

Virtual runners can register for $35. Like actual participants, they receive a shirt, a finisher’s medal, a pancake breakfast provided by the Thousand Oaks Kiwanis Club and access to an after-race expo with booths hosted by various organizations, including title sponsor Ladin Subaru, and a beer garden sponsored by Dudes’ Brewing Company of Thousand Oaks. Registration ends June 1.

Senior Concerns is seeking volunteers for various tasks.

For more information about volunteering, contact Denise Stonecipher at denise@seniorconcerns.org or (805) 497-0189.

For more information about the race, visit seniorconcerns.org and click on the Love Run banner.

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