Thirty years ago when Heart of the Valley (HOV), SERVICES FOR SENIORS Inc., began, Apple had just released the Macintosh personal computer and the Internet for personal use was a mostly unimaginable concept. Personal mobile phones were in their infancy and the cost to make a long distance phone call was prohibitive for anyone on a fixed income. Many senior citizens were isolated and lonely and the need for services such as friendly visits and rides to appointments was desperately needed among seniors. HOV filled that hole and has continued to provide the same friendly visits and rides, in addition to services such as basic home upkeep, technology help and a concierge program–Lyft from the Heart for seniors who want to schedule rides with Lyft but do not have smart phones–for residents of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, Campbell and western San Jose.
In honor of its 30 years of history, and to look forward to the next 30 years of “Compassion in Action,” HOV held an anniversary celebration at the Santa Clara Senior Center on Feb. 25 to commemorate three decades of serving South Bay seniors.
“During my 27 years as executive director, I am amazed by the connections that are made daily through Heart of the Valley: the donated items that directly benefit seniors in need, the friendships developed between clients and volunteers the board members who find creative ways to share our story and inspire donors to give to benefit the people we serve and the staff and office volunteers to teach each other so that we can enhance the services we are eager to provide,” said Glenda Cresap.
In a room decorated with photos of HOV throughout the years, Senator Jim Beall, a longtime supporter of the organization, provided the keynote speech (in front of a picture of him speaking at an early HOV event) and Councilmember Teresa O’Neill presented a commendation from the City. The afternoon also remembered founding member Ted Chamberlain who died July 3, 2016 and consisted of speakers who have been affected by the non-profit, like client Saeka Miyamura, and volunteers, like Ken Becker.
Becker told a story about transporting Miyamura to a doctor’s appointment and, while waiting to drive her home, overheard a conversation between another patient and the front desk. According to Becker, the patient asked the receptionist to call Outreach for a ride home, but was told it would be a two hour wait–something that HOV clients never experience. “Isn’t it great when somebody walks out of the doctor’s appointment or a medical appointment and you’re there waiting for them?” he said. “You’re there to take them home… It’s unbelievable … This is one of the finest organizations I’ve ever worked with.”
In 2016, HOV took 3,400 service calls, 229 volunteers donated 27,000 hours of service and 39,000 miles were logged driving clients to appointments or the store. HOV has been named as the designated charity for The Tabard Theatre Company’s (www.tabardtheatre.org) production of The Cemetery Club (now through March 12). Visit www.servicesforseniors.org or call (408) 241-1571 for more information, to become a client or volunteer with the organization.