By Diane Y. Welch
This year marks an important milestone for the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. The nonprofit community resource and response program provides crisis assistance and serves as a welcoming place that offers social and educational opportunities for area seniors.
The center’s mission is to assist seniors in maintaining their health, welfare and safety while respecting their need for independence, self-esteem and dignity. There is no membership and the door is open to everyone, said executive director Terrie Litwin, who has a master’s degree in clinical social work and has led the center since 2005 when founder Ginger Bord retired.
Litwin was recently recognized by the County of San Diego Department of Aging and Independence Services RSVP Program when she received the RSVP Senior Advocacy Ambassador Award for her advocacy for seniors and support of senior programs. Her work was also recognized by the Rancho Santa Fe Association in February. Litwin runs the center with her right-hand assistant director Cheryl Ford, who has been with the center since 2001.
Back then the organization served from a makeshift office in the basement of the Rancho Santa Fe Library sharing space with the library guild. “We had one little corner with two desks and people would come in to get resources but we couldn’t offer the breadth of programs that we can now provide,” recalled Ford who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
The idea of a service to meet the needs of local seniors was conceived by Rancho Santa Fe resident Ginger Bord in 1988. With the support of neighbors, friends and local professionals the nonprofit organization became a reality.
A major change occurred when a single-story home on La Gracia came on the market. Designed by master architect Lilian J. Rice, in 1924, the home is listed on the national Register of Historic Places and is considered a local treasure. The organization was able to purchase the house and after undergoing necessary changes to make it compliant with current codes the center opened its doors in September 2002.
Since then the center has expanded its programs to include continued learning, creativity, social opportunities, health outreach and advocacy to address the challenges faced with aging and more.
Seniors can now take classes such as painting, cooking, art and music appreciation, literary discussion, physical fitness, Mahjong lessons, French discussion, poker with Richard Lederer, acting with Monty Silverstone and more. Some of the classes are taught by seniors who return to share their knowledge.
The center is managed by compassionate, knowledgeable staff and a dedicated board of directors, led by board president Carla DiMare. Robert Grant and Harold Sexton are Directors Emeritus. The organization is funded solely through the generosity of donor contributions. Supporters may also contribute through long-range charitable giving and estate planning. A community anniversary celebration and donor recognition event will be scheduled for later this year.
“This is a lovely organization and it’s a privilege to be a part of it,” said Litwin who foresees an increasing demand for the services as the population ages. “We love our loyal friends and supporters who contribute each year to help us maintain the quality of our programs and resources.”
To learn more about the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center and the programs it offers, or to make a gift of a tax deductible donation visit www.rsfseniors.org or call (858) 756-3041