Client Spotlight: Richard W

“My experience at the Serving Seniors Center here in San Diego has been nothing but extraordinary! When I arrived, I was greeted by a friendly staff and signed up for programs that pointed me in the direction I needed to go. This was a place that has many resources, especially for the homeless that are 60+ years of age.” 

Richard, 61 years old, has been coming to Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center for over a year… he has also been actively experiencing homelessness during that time. Sleeping outside the Wellness Center at night, he would come in each morning with a safe place to rest, receive a warm meal and could meet with his case manager. 

He made a conscious effort to not let being homeless define who he is. Inside Serving Seniors, he can be his authentic self. With no family in San Diego, he refers to the seniors and staff at Serving Seniors as his family. 

Richard soon began volunteering in the dining room. He said it made him feel useful, and he was able to accomplish a positive thing for that day. He is now proud to be a Serving Senior Volunteer Ambassador, “It’s a way of representing what this place is all about – a safe place for elders.” 

Richard had been on the waiting list for housing since last summer. Just two months ago, his housing case manager shared the exciting news that there was an opening in a transitional housing unit. Richard was in shock. A few days later, he was in his own place.  

“At the end of the day, I know when I go back (home), I’m able to take a shower like a normal person. Just the shower alone is like a billion dollars. Just knowing that you’re able to get cleaned up and lay down without having to worry about who’s walking by is an invaluable feeling. I lay down and actually close my eyes and get rest. I’m dreaming again whereas when I was sleeping outside, I wasn’t.”  

Due to the negative perceptions of people experiencing homelessness, Richard experienced a lot of isolation. “Going from homeless to transitional housing, Serving Seniors is helping me to become more normalized into society,” he shares. He now helps welcome new people to Serving Seniors and tells them it’s a great place to meet people of all ages, from staff to volunteers to other seniors. He says, “it’s a fantastic resource center for people to connect with the many things they might need.” 

Richard now has hope for the future. He hopes that after a year in transitional housing, he’ll be able to find permanent housing. Once he finds his forever home, his dream is to continue his degree and become a chemical dependency counselor. 

Serving Seniors is able to provide whole-service, wraparound support to seniors like Richard because of our supportive community.  In honor of Older American’s Month, help us continue to impact the lives of seniors by donating today.