This article originally appeared in the Desert Sun, February 2022

The Cathedral City Senior Center (CCSC) works to ensure equity in aging, providing services and programming to a diverse community. CCSC assists all seniors 55+ by providing social, recreational, educational and health-related programs to over 600 members living in Cathedral City and the surrounding communities.

Recently, the organization launched an Equity in Aging Program to reach seniors who have been underserved. The program hired staff to fill an outreach position and is creating new Spanish programming, recognizing that 50% of the city’s population is Hispanic. The organization is also working to include LGBTQ seniors, other underserved cultures and individuals who are neurodivergent.

CCSC has launched a few programs for Spanish speakers including a painting class, Zumba, bilingual crochet and Spanish reading and writing for Spanish speakers. Currently, staff is reaching out into the community to connect with residents and listen to their needs and preferences for programming.

“Cathedral City is unique in that its majority is the minority,” the organization’s Executive Director Geoff Corbin said.  “The services and resources offered aren’t necessarily reflective of that and we don’t want to leave anyone out.”

While working on the launch of the Equity in Aging program, CCSC also focused on social services and nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the organization provides a food bank every Monday and has seen the need increase dramatically. In order to help the community, the organization eliminated age, income and residency requirements to receive food. Partnering with Panera, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Grocery outlet and FIND Food Bank, CCSC provides over 100 families fresh boxed, canned and frozen foods.

In addition to these services, CCSC also helps seniors secure resources they are entitled to such as Medicare, Medicaid, low-income housing, food stamps, health care and legal aid. Many seniors are unaware of benefits and services available to them, and the Center will help them identify them.

Recently, CCSC received a grant from the Margot Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The organization depends on grants and donations to keep program fees low, to offer scholarship memberships and to provide services.

“Our budget has more than doubled and it needs to double again,” Corbi said. “The silver tsunami is coming, and we are growing just trying to reach the minorities in our community.”

CCSC is looking to increase its capacity with a capital expansion, having outgrown its current location, but will need even further support. Its capital campaign has been put on hold while the organization helps the community with the challenges it has faced during the pandemic. However, Corbin hopes to find partners who will help support the expansion and identify a larger space for the center.

Currently, CCSC is open with a full calendar of classes and activities. The organization is following recommended guidelines for COVID-19 safety and is almost back to normal capacity. CCSC also has many loyal volunteers who cover the front desk, assist with the Food Bank and help with programs. The organization always welcomes new volunteers and is especially in need of Spanish-speaking volunteers.

Corbin encourages seniors no matter their age to become a member and discover the activities and community that the center offers. Membership costs $25 a year, but CCSC does not turn anyone away, offering programming fees on a sliding scale or for free to those who cannot afford them.

“You don’t have to be 80 to be considered a senior,” Corbin said. “Our costs are free or minimal and as you start the aging process, you will have somewhere to go to start looking at the services available to you.”

More Information: https://theccsc.org/ or (760) 321-1548

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