Major donation will launch Senior Wellness Center

SAN DIEGO — It was announced Dec. 16 that Rancho Santa Fe residents Gary and Mary West have made a $3 million contribution through their foundation to Senior Community Centers to help the nonprofit organization open the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in downtown San Diego. The gift marks the largest donation in Senior Community Center’s history.
The Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, to be located at Fourth Avenue and Beech Street, will not only house Senior Community Centers’ existing programs, but will also allow the nonprofit group to implement state-of-the-art programs and services for today’s active seniors. In addition to helping low-income seniors in San Diego, the center is poised to act as a national model for the next generation of senior services.
“As the older adult population continues to grow and their needs change, the West’s gift and the Senior Wellness Center will be a place for seniors to turn to, whatever their needs,” Paul Downey, president and CEO of Senior Community Centers, said. “This facility will transform the traditional senior center into a 21st-century hub for innovative services that help seniors living at or near poverty prolong their independence, enhance their quality of life, and promote their overall health.”
“We envision the Senior Wellness Center to be an inviting, easy-to-access, one-stop shop for seniors,” Gary West said. “In addition to providing nutritious meals ¬— which will be the cornerstone of its services — the new center will offer an array of health and social services, including case management, health and wellness check-ups, mental health care, opportunities for education and job training, access to computers, the chance to engage in intergenerational activities, and other socialization benefits. Moreover, this will be the first center of its kind to utilize wireless health technology to help improve the overall health and wellness of our seniors.”
Downey added that the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center will emphasis civic engagement among participants in the center’s programs.
“We plan to partner with organizations throughout the region to find meaningful volunteer and employment opportunities where our seniors can use their lifetimes of experience to make a positive impact on their community,” Downey said.
When they learned that only a small percentage of philanthropic dollars donated throughout the country were allocated to seniors, the Wests made helping seniors one of their foundation’s focus areas, which led them to Senior Community Centers and the idea to create the 21st century Senior Wellness Center.
The Gary and Mary West Foundation makes grants to nonprofit partners working in one or more of its three interest areas: seniors, with a focus on healthy and independent aging; workforce development and career preparation for high school and at-risk youth; and animal welfare, with a focus on companion dogs and police canine units.
The $3 million gift from the Gary and Mary West Foundation will help Senior Community Centers acquire the property at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Beech Street for the future Senior Wellness Center. The organization, however, is seeking the community’s support to raise the additional funds needed to complete the purchase and fund the building renovations, plus the programs and services they plan to feature at the center.
One of the community partners that has already stepped up to assist Senior Community Centers is HomeAid San Diego, a nonprofit organization that helps build transitional housing for the temporarily homeless and other needy individuals. HomeAid has committed to helping Senior Community Centers with the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center by reaching out to contractors and subcontractors to serve as partners on the project.
“Gary and Mary West have a progressive vision for the center, which includes integration of technology and the most innovative systems and programs, so the building should be a reflection of their forward thinking,” Downey said. “We’re eager to begin working with HomeAid and others to see this wellness center and the West’s vision come to life.”
To contact HomeAid San Diego, visit www.homeaidsd.org, or call (858) 793-6292.For more information about Senior Community Centers, visit www.servingseniors.org, or call (619) 235-6572.

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