Oldtimers Foundation prepares for Compton seniors
COMPTON—The City Council welcomed the Oldtimers Foundation to the Hub City on Tuesday, June 12, as the group gave an oral report on its pending takeover of the Meals on Wheels program, which is set to take effect Sunday, July 1.
The Oldtimers replace the current Dickison Community Lighted Schools program, which lost its county funding after paperwork was not submitted on time.
Chief Executive Officer Irene Muro said the Oldtimers Foundation looks forward to getting started in Compton, and bringing its tradition of service to local seniors.
“A group of retired Kaiser steel workers started the foundation in 1964,” she said. “Maintaining the physical, social and psychological wellbeing of seniors in San Bernardino and southeast Los Angeles Counties is the goal.”
The organization began as a relief effort for steel worker’s widows who did not receive retirement benefits from their deceased husbands.
“When the Older Americans Act funding became available, the group expanded and offered nutrition services to seniors in Fontana and the surrounding areas,” Muro said. “Our program serves 600,000 meals spanning across two counties every year.”
The group’s motto is no senior should go hungry for any reason.
Muro said the foundation recently received an accreditation grant from the national Meals on Wheels Association.
“We were one of 10 groups chosen for this program, sponsored by Met Life,” she said. “We received a grant from Walmart to green our kitchen.”
Muro said the immediate objective is a seamless transition that affects no one adversely.
“We will continue offering meals at the Compton, Dollarhide and East Rancho Dominguez Neighborhood Centers, and transition the St. Timothy clients to a home-delivered meal route because there is no kitchen at the site, which raises food safety concerns,” she said. “We will utilize the four home-delivered meal routes, and look at streamlining the operation with current Oldtimers routes in place.”
Muro said the group will employ the current Dickison Lighted School employees and reports to the contrary are false.
“This is not the first time I have heard this,” she said. “We never suggested layoffs, and planned on using the current employees from the very beginning. Nine of the most senior Dickison staff members will transfer over, and receive their new hire packets within the week.”
When a program works, Muro said, the group does not change it.
“The Dickison staff cares about their seniors, and that is the most important part of the program,” she said. “We take pride in hiring locally, and preserving jobs for Compton residents.”
The Oldtimers served 36,903 meals at its centers, and 43,994 homedelivered meals during fiscal year 2012.
“Our projections for fiscal year 2013 include 34,335 meals at our locations and 40,646 home-delivered meals,” Muro said. “The final totals will be available after our next meeting with Los Angeles County.”
Councilwoman Yvonne Arceneaux asked Muro for a guarantee that the staff will continue working even if the Oldtimers did not receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money from the city.
“They are not related,” Muro said. “We do not have nine additional staff members for Compton.”
The level of service, moving forward, she said, remains in question.
“As part of the grant, we must provide a 15 percent match,” Muro said. “Part of that can be from in-kind (trade of goods and services) donations and keeping the program in the current city locations can be part of that exchange.”
If the city does not provide CDBG funding for the program, she said, service levels will decrease.
“The organization will look into having more meals delivered to homes, and less at locations in the city before reducing meals,” Muro said. “We will also review delivering frozen meals instead of hot ones.”
Councilman Willie Jones expressed concern over the meal reductions. “It is clear the group plans on cutting approximately 2,000 meals,” he said. “I hope there is some effort to resolve this and restore the program to its 2012 levels.”
The projections came from the county, Muro said, and may change.
Interim City Manager Bryan Batiste said the Oldtimers cannot receive the CDBG funding for the upcoming fiscal year. “The money will go towards another group that already applied,” he said.
The Oldtimers will do a full assessment before placing anyone on a frozen meal program, Muro said, and will receive follow-up assessments on a quarterly basis.
“The quality of care for seniors always comes first,” she said. “We are nonprofit and do not get rich doing this. Our spirits and souls get rich, and we will work hand-in-hand with the city and provide the service with the money we have.”