Pasadena's Senior CommissionBy Katie Brandon
It has been my honor to serve on the Senior Commission for the City of Pasadena over the past year. Most of my fellow members represent one of the City districts and liaison with their respective council members, but I am an agency representative just as Martha Celis is for Huntington Hospital’s Senior Care Network and Patricia Wright is for Salvation Army.
The Senior Commission advises the City Council on the needs of older adult residents throughout the city. The Commission has opportunities to connect the City Council to the concerns of its citizens, be aware of the resources available and identify gaps, and be part of the City’s commitment to meeting the needs of its residents.
Our work plan for 2022/23 has focused on Celebrating Older Americans Month, Community Engagement, and to update the resource list for older adults. Although Pasadena Village is currently focused on the Older Adult Resource Fair on February 15, I have been working with a sub-committee of the commission to plan a second fair Celebrating Older Americans Month on May 23 at McDonald Park. Other commissioners, including Village member Dave Folz, are working to update a comprehensive resource list, and also attend local events such as the South Pasadena Healthy Aging Fair, Pasadena Senior Center Monthly Health Fair, and our Ribbon Cutting with the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, guest speakers share information related to local seniors, usually at the request of a fellow commissioner. In August, Ali Everett, Accessibility Coordinator, Parks Recreation and Community Services Department (and wife of Village board member Nick Everett) presented on The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements for Local Government. I learned how the City offers accommodations and modifications for those who need it. Pasadena’s Citizen Service Center is a one-stop shop (or call) to make requests and find out what is available through the city. Reach a friendly operator at 626-744-7311 or visit www.cityofpasadena.net/citizen-service-center/ As a nonprofit organization, we can do our best to make sure everyone can fully participate in what we offer, create a welcoming environment for those with different abilities, and respond to requests as much as we are able.
In October, Jon Hamblen, Parking Manager for the city’s Department of Transportation gave an overview of the parking division. The most enlightening part was to learn that those with a blue Disabled Person Parking Placard can park for free in City lots and at meters in Pasadena. If you are in a City garage where you pull a ticket when you enter, you can use the call button as you leave and let the attendant know you have a placard (or are transporting someone who has one). They will then let you exit without any cost. We will add information about this in our revised guidelines for our Transportation Team and remind riders to bring their parking placard with them!
In November, we heard from fellow commissioner Jane Haderlein, the Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Public Relations, Huntington Health. It was incredible to hear how the Helen and Will Webster Heart & Vascular Center was saving lives, aided by its strategic location directly above the Emergency and Trama area where a high speed elevator transports patients straight there, reducing the amount of time before they can receive critical care in those moments when it matters most.
One of the challenges older adults face in Pasadena is reliable transportation, and although we have heard from Pasadena Dial-a-Ride last May, that is only one piece of the system that older adults who need rides can use. The Commission welcomes more public comment, and is looking to hear from older adults about their experiences with transportation in the coming months. We will create a new work plan in June and I anticipate transportation being one of the focus areas for the year to come.
The most rewarding part of being on the commission so far was working with the Miracle on 1st Street holiday assistance program to distribute donated turkeys to Pasadena older adults. We were able to bundle pies donated by Village board member Nancy Valentine to make some local older adults’ holiday celebrations even more festive and delicious.
My role on the commission has informed my work at Pasadena Village and my interactions with those who serve older adults both in the city and throughout the community. It is a rewarding way to serve the community and interesting to learn more. I hope our commission can be more of voice to City Council and a conduit to more older residents in the coming year. If you are interested in learning more about joining an advisory body or commission, visit www.cityofpasadena.net/commissions/ If you would like to listen in to the Senior Commission meetings, or share your thoughts, our meetings are now in person at the Jackie Robinson Community Center, 1020 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103. Information and the agenda are posted before each meeting at www.cityofpasadena.net/commissions/senior-commission/