Arlene Prater Receives 2024 Simon Silva Leadership Award

Honoring the profound legacy to Serving Seniors from late board member Simon Silva, longtime Serving Seniors board member and past chairperson Arlene Prater was named the 2024 Simon Silva Leadership Award winner during the organization’s 2024 “World Of Difference” volunteer recognition event on April 16.

Simon Silva, who passed away from cancer on September 3, 2022, at age 56, exemplifies servant leadership at its best. He spent 29 years dedicated to public service. His life had a profound impact on the Serving Seniors mission and well beyond into the community.

Prater received her award from Silva’s widow, Claudia, and his daughters Gabriela and Isabel. “For more than 30 years, Arlene Prater has been a passionate advocate for helping underserved individuals and communities find their voice and live with dignity,” said Silva, recognizing Prater’s role as an ambassador for the agency in expanding its network of supporters and community partners.

“Serving Seniors has had the good fortune of Arlene’s stellar leadership, and as the longest serving board member. Her expertise in employment law and her sage guidance has helped our team managing the changes and deploying best practices in a growing and diverse workforce,” added Silva.

When Prater first joined the board in 2004, the organization’s budget was $6 million annually. Today, the organization has expanded its services with a budget of more than $14 million annually.

Prater received her recognition during National Volunteer Month along with others who give their time and talent to support efforts in San Diego County making life better for older adults who are low-income or experiencing homelessness.

“It was truly an honor to know Simon,” said Prater. “He was a such a cherished member of the board.

“Serving Seniors has meant so much to me and my husband. It’s just been wonderful volunteering here, working on the board here, knowing everyone. I encourage everyone I know to give your support. I can’t think of a more deserving organization. Here’s to being a senior!”

Prater is Serving Seniors’ longest serving board member. Her tenure spanned for almost two decades starting as a member of the board from 2004-2010, 2014-10, 2020, and 2021-present. Prater served as board chairperson from 2017-2019.

Among Prater’s key accomplishments are her significant role in milestone projects including development of the Potiker Family Senior Resident in City Heights in 2007; the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in 2010; the Schmale Family Senior Residence in Ramona in 2019, the Harris Family Senior Residence in City Heights in 2022; and the groundbreaking of the Clairemont Senior Residence and Wellness Center, due to open in early 2024.

“For 54 years, we have had the good fortune of over 200 community leaders serve on our board of directors,” said Edith Glassey, Serving Seniors Chief Philanthropy Officer. “They bring a rich and diverse background of expertise – from law, finance, housing, information technology, business management, communications, social services, and more.”

In addition to serving on the board of directors for five years, Simon Silva had a distinguished legal career and was a proud United States Marine Corps veteran. He relished finding solutions through the interpretation and application of the law to create a more just society. His last 13 years of legal practice were with the City of Chula Vista. He loved his work and had committed to a campaign for Chula Vista City Attorney when his life was cut short.

“Simon, you will always be a part of our Serving Seniors family and you will always live in our hearts with the many ways you have been there for us. You are treasured, and we will never forget you,” said Glassey.

While April is National Volunteer Month, Serving Seniors CEO Paul Downey said Serving Seniors strives to celebrate its vital volunteers every day. “This month is a chance for us to gather and celebrate together. Whether you are a volunteer, a donor, or both – you are fulfilling an important need to let someone know that they matter.

“Most of all, what you do and what you give matters deeply to our seniors because you help them thrive with respect and dignity,” concluded Downey.