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August 16, 2011 > Volunteering - Lifting Spirits and Touching Lives

Volunteering - Lifting Spirits and Touching Lives

By Mary M. Anderson

"I put life in better perspective on Fridays, following my route as a LIFE ElderCare Meals on Wheels volunteer driver, than on any other day of the week. It is not just about helping frail, homebound seniors; it is about sharing strengths and weaknesses. The gift of our time goes a long way towards helping at risk members of the community remain living independently," states Judy Zlatnik, President of the LIFE ElderCare Board of Directors and longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer driver.

LIFE ElderCare, founded in 1975, is a non-profit organization providing the basics of Life: food, companionship and increased mobility enabling seniors to remain living at home for as long as safely possible. LIFE ElderCare's direct service programs include Meals on Wheels, Friendly Visitors, VIP Rides and Fall Prevention. Volunteers are the lifeline of the organization, as close to 700 community members donate their time on behalf of Tri City seniors enrolled in LIFE ElderCare services.

"LIFE ElderCare's greatest strength is the volunteers. This is not only a cost saving measure for the organization, but most importantly, it is the volunteers who bring hope for tomorrow to seniors living in Fremont, Newark and Union City. Volunteers have the opportunity to see the persons they are helping. Meals on Wheels volunteer drivers, for example, not only deliver a hot meal each day, but they bring a warm smile and some good conversation that makes a lonely and long day not quite so difficult," Zlatnik says. "Volunteers see the good that transpires from their visit and the true need for the services that LIFE ElderCare provides."

Zlatnik was recruited as a Meals on Wheels volunteer driver almost 12 years ago following her retirement from the teaching profession. She also has served as a Friendly Visitor volunteer (providing companionship to isolated and lonely seniors) and as a VIP Volunteer driver (assisting seniors who have no other means towards getting to medical appointments or on necessary errands.)

LIFE ElderCare is always looking for volunteers - people who want to help seniors who now have had to learn the language of dependency. "I also so enjoy visiting with the various LIFE ElderCare volunteers as they all have a passion for what they do and want to make a difference. We all share a common bond and at our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, that could not be more obvious. We are like a family - to each other and to the seniors we serve," Zlatnik reflects.

In addition to volunteer opportunities that support the programs, LIFE ElderCare is looking for qualified and interested persons to join the Board of Directors. "We are looking for individuals who have a keen interest in seniors, who enjoy working with a variety of people, those who have heart, professional experience, contacts and fundraising experience," stated Zlatnik.

The organization has been affected by the economic downturn and has faced significant recent challenges of revenue shortfalls. LIFE ElderCare is a community-funded organization with only 30% of the revenue base coming from government funding. While three of our programs are at no cost, Meals on Wheels is a donation program and seniors are asked to make a contribution toward their meal cost. Currently, 68% of those on the program are unable to do so; the organization has had a multifaceted fund raising plan underway to keep Meals on Wheels rolling. Most importantly, LIFE ElderCare relies on local business, faith based and cultural groups and individuals within the community to help provide the support that keeps programs effectively and efficiently operating on behalf of Tri City seniors. Without this help, LIFE ElderCare would be forced to cut services or place Meals on Wheels seniors on a waiting list.

An upcoming opportunity for Tri City community members to support LIFE ElderCare and enjoy themselves simultaneously, is to join the organization at Sweet Tomatoes on Tuesday, August 30, between 6-8 p.m. for dinner. Sweet Tomatoes will donate 15% of their sales generated during that time with a purchase of a meal and a beverage to LIFE ElderCare. Log on to for details and to download the coupon that needs to be presented that night.

"I am thankful to be living in a caring community," states Zlatnik. "And because of my age as well as having the personal experience in responding to the needs of my own parents, volunteering and giving back to the community comes naturally to me. I count my blessings that I am able to be active each day."

To learn more on how you can make an impact on behalf of Tri City seniors, please visit

Life ElderCare fundraiser
Tuesday, Aug 30
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Sweet Tomatoes
39370 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont
(510) 574-2090
Download coupon at:

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