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Whistlestop Submits Plans to City-July 15, 2015

Whistlestop Submits Plans to City-July 15, 2015

Contact Derek Wilson at dwilson@marinscope.com.

San Rafael is getting its first look at what could be an active hub for senior residents and officials say the initial reaction has been positive.

Whistlestop and Eden Housing representatives filed a formal application for the new Mission Plaza project with the City of San Rafael on July 9. The goal of the project is to create a new, larger Whistlestop center, including 41 senior apartments, on the site of the current Whistlestop building on Tamalpais Avenue, between Third and Fourth streets. Read more…

7,400 Reasons Why I Love My Job

7,400 Reasons Why I Love My JobSubmitted by Joe O’Hehir, CEO Whistlestop

When it comes to seniors aging in Marin, it is important to support activities and events that allow older adults to thrive during the later stages of their lives. When it comes to loving my job, I always find listening to seniors’ stories is both inspiring and encouraging. i am completing my seventh year as CEO for Whistlestop, and like our members, I too am thriving and loving my job.

What’s not to love? I get to work with an incredible staff of over 175 dedicated people who day in and day out provide valuable human needs and services to Marin’s older adults and individuals with disabilities. Whether someone needs a rids, a meal, social connection, or in formation and assistance, our caring staff is there for them. I admire our staff’s patience and compassion for each and every member we serve; they are all truly inspirational. I’m fortunate to be able to call them my co-workers.

Whistlestop is blessed to have over 1990 active volunteers who support our efforts to ensure that every adult in Marin has the opportunity to age with dignity, independence, and grace.

The majority of our volunteers are themselves older adults helping their fellow older adults thrive in our community. Whether it is serving a lunch at Jackson CAfe, delivering meals to home-bound individuals, driving someone to their doctor’s appointment, handing out food at our brown bag pantry, teaching a class, leading a group activity, or manning the Information and Assistance desk, Whistlestop’s volunteers are always there for our clients with a helping hand and a smile on their face. We would not be able to help the 7,500 members we serve without the over 16,000 donated volunteer hours from this very special group of individuals.

One of the best things I love about my job is having the opportunity to personally thank the thousands of donors who support Whistlestop’s mission.

The ranks of Whistlestop donors have grown significantly during the past five years. Without the generous financial support from the community we would not be able to manage the growth in demand for Whistlestop’s services. An increasing number of older adults are able to thrive in our community thanks to the generosity and support of our donors.

Most importantly, I love my job because I get to interact with some amazing and inspirational older adults who are Whistlestop participants. When I’m having a particularly challenging day at the office, I can walk around our Active Aging Center and experience the thriving environment.

I may observe a lively Zumba class and feel the energy. Then I’ll drop by the computer lab and watch a young adult helping an older adult learn how to use an iPad. I also Like to eaves drop on one of our many multicultural group activities and listen to the many languages spoken. There is laughter and engagement throughout the center and it is invigorating.

Love my job? You bet I do. I can count 7,400 reasons every day.

Whistlestop addresses an important need-July 15, 2015

Whistlestop addresses an important need-July 15, 2015

I have been volunteering at Whistlestop for over two years. I deliver food for the Meals on Wheels program and also distribute food for its Brown Bag program.

I’ve had a firsthand view of the needs of many of the seniors in Marin County.

Not only do I support Whistlestop and its plans to redevelop its building at the existing location, this project is helping making a better future for our seniors, their families and those that will soon become senior citizens.

I truly hope the local elected officials see the benefits this project will bring to downtown San Rafael and surrounding communities.

Marin is facing some serious issues when it comes to providing housing that is affordable, in a great location and available.

For the sake of future generations, I hope our local officials will support organizations that are trying to address some of our most serious issues — now.

— Phil Dito, Greenbrae

KCBS Joe O’Hehir and Jeffrey Schaub on Taxi Company Closure-May 4, 2015

KCBS Joe O'Hehir and Jeffrey Schaub on Taxi Company Closure-May 4, 2015


Whistlestop’s plan for much-needed housing-July 17, 2015

Whistlestop’s plan for much-needed housing-July 17, 2015

As a place to call home, Marin has much to offer with its abundance of natural and human resources.

I am fortunate to have been able to live here since 1980. Unfortunately, Marin is not abundant when it comes to accessibility for people on fixed incomes.

San Rafael is an expensive place to live and housing options are limited — but it doesn’t have to be this way. Projects like the Whistlestop Mission Plaza are one opportunity to provide much-needed housing for our seniors.

I trust our community leaders to recognize the great potential of this project and the many lives it will positively impact.

— The Rev. Jan Reynolds, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, San Rafael Vice President, Marin Interfaith Council Board of Directors

My very rewarding job at Whistlestop

My very rewarding job at WhistlestopBy Erika Vaughn Aging in Marin

I finally have a job I truly love, a role that allows me to come into work with a smile on my face and in my heart. As Whistlestop’s Meals on Wheels Supervisor, I get to see first-hand how welcome our meals are and the good our drivers do when they make deliveries to recipients who are isolated and homebound.

I recall one delivery that epitomizes the value of Meals on Wheels. I grew very close to a lady who stole my heart. One day when I arrived to deliver a meal to this particular 87-year-old, I saw paramedics. I ran inside her house and saw her strapped on a stretcher, ready to be rolled out. When she saw me her eyes lit up and she said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you.’ I hoped she was going to be okay. The Emergency Medical Technicians said she insisted on waiting for “her second daughter” who worked for Meals on Wheels, which was me! Read More…

San Rafael and Novato make AARPs Top 10 List in Livability Categories-May 11, 2015

San Rafael and Novato make AARPs Top 10 List in Livability Categories-May 11, 2015
By Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal

When it comes to healthy living and the dating scene, AARP likes what it sees in San Rafael and Novato.

The cities made AARP’s top 10 list for small cities in two categories: best cities for staying healthy and best cities for date night. The categories are for people 50 and older. Read more…

Whistlestop is at the right location for seniors- July 19, 2015

Whistlestop is at the right location for seniors- July 19, 2015
At the transportation hub in downtown San Rafael on Tamalpais Avenue, an ideal spot for the services they provide, Whistlestop is developing Mission Plaza.

Whistlestop’s efforts to reconstruct their building is a credit to our community.

By locating at this site, Whistlestop will expand and enhance the critical and important senior services they already provide.

It’s time for Marin to welcome and help this fine organization and the seniors of Marin.

Marin is aging and I hope that the greater Marin community will realize how important the Mission Plaza project is for our seniors and for San Rafael in general.

– Tom Verkozen, Corte Madera

Whistlestop Renews Marin Transit Board Contract

Whistlestop Renews Marin Transit Board ContractWhistlestop CEO Joe O’Hehir shared great news with all of us who work at this great organization. The Marin Transit Board awarded Whistlestop a new contract for the operations and maintenance of Marin Access Paratransit Services effective January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2022. “You should all be proud of the work you do every day to help Marin’s older adults and individuals with disabilities get around and stay connected to the community.” Joe said. “It’s not just our mission, it’s also our responsibility.” Special needs Transportation services have been at the very core of Whistlestop’s community-based programs and services since the organization’s inception in 1954. Congratulations to all!

Dad Was Right and Ahead of His Time-May 20, 2015

Dad Was Right and Ahead of His Time-May 20, 2015
By Marty Orgel

Right now, I’m thinking about the years my father spent in a nursing home. And even decades after he died I have fond memories because I always knew my dad was in a good place. His time there still resonates with me, mostly for one reason. Read more…

There was a senior woman, who lived in a shoe… – July 19, 2015

There was a senior woman, who lived in a shoe... - July 19, 2015
George Russell – Special to Marin Independent Journal

After a public “listening period,” the Whistlestop senior center has formally submitted to the city of San Rafael revised plans for a five-story affordable housing complex and service center as the site of its downtown depot headquarters.

Whistlestop in San Rafael delivers holiday greetings to homebound seniors

Whistlestop in San Rafael delivers holiday greetings to homebound seniors

Erika Vaughn, right, Whistlestop’s Meals on Wheels program supervisor, delivers food, Christmas cards and gifts to Rita Jones, 75, of San Rafael on Friday. Robert Tong — Marin Independent Journal

By Stephanie Weldy, Marin Independent Journal

POSTED: 12/18/15, 6:17 PM PST 

Seventy-five-year-old Rita Jones opened the front door of her San Rafael apartment Friday afternoon for her routine Meals on Wheels visit.

Not only did she get fruit, milk and a plate of braised turkey with seared kale during the call, but she also got a bundle of holiday greeting cards from community members she’s never met.

One card wished her peace and happiness. Another, from a local Girl Scouts participant, featured a handcrafted winter scene with a snowman made of cotton balls.

Jones, who is paralyzed on the left side of her body and uses a wheelchair to get around, said the cards let her know she’s not forgotten.

“It’s nice knowing someone cares about you like this,” she said.

This is the fourth year San Rafael-based Whistlestop has collected greeting cards from members of the public to give to home-bound seniors they serve through the meal delivery service, Meals on Wheels. The cards are a way to bring a little bit of joy to clients, Whistlestop officials said.

“They’re home by themselves, a lot of time maybe no one is coming to bring them cards,” said Erika Vaughn, Whistlestop’s Meals on Wheels program supervisor. “It’s just the happiness and the joy that someone would care enough to bring them Christmas cards.”

The senior center put out the call to the community seeking signed cards for 250 senior clients they serve through Meals on Wheels. Thirty disabled Marin residents, under the age of 60, are also served through the program through Nourish. This year, the senior center received more cards than last year, with roughly 2,800 cards coming in from local Girl Scouts troops, and students from San Rafael High School and Marin Country Day School. Each senior is to receive 10 cards. Home Instead Senior Care also donated 50 gifts, ranging from throws, scarves and more, to be given to the seniors.

As Vaughn distributed cards, along with meals, she was greeted with a tight embrace, and a kiss on the cheek by one client. After handing two bags to the senior, she was handed a gift in exchange. The cards the client received will be placed around her San Rafael home to make it a bit more festive for the holidays, she said.

Jones said she’s been receiving the cards through the program for a few years. With cards from last Christmas, she has them displayed throughout her residence.

“I put some on my coffee table and I like to sit down and look at them,” Jones said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Weldy covers San Rafael and Novato news for the Marin IJ. Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @StephanieWeldy1.

Sausalito’s New Senior Ride Program Could Serve as Pioneer for Programs in Marin-June 21, 2015

Sausalito’s New Senior Ride Program Could Serve as Pioneer for Programs in Marin-June 21, 2015
By Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal

The steep, winding hills of Sausalito are not easy for anyone to drive, and for seniors they can be downright frightening.

But a program started last month provides free, on-demand rides for senior residents in the community — a program that could be replicated throughout Marin. Read more…

The Whistlestop Mission Plaza project has been proposed at an ideal time. – July 19, 2015

The Whistlestop Mission Plaza project has been proposed at an ideal time. - July 19, 2015

The scarcity of affordable senior housing is not something to be ignored.

This countywide issue continues to be swept under the carpet, and now we have a truly viable project to finally help alleviate this issue. This project truly deserves our full community support.

As the cost of living continues to increase in Marin, the number of seniors who can afford to stay here continues to decrease, as the number of senior housing alternatives also continues to decrease. Our seniors deserve better care, support, assistance and affordable housing options.

It is imperative that the community stands behind projects like this, to improve the overall quality of life now, not later, as the number of future alternative sites is bound to decrease. There are significant changers occurring in Marin and let’s make sure this positive change is not an opportunity we let slip through our fingers.

I strongly encourage everyone’s support of Whistlestop’s effort to continue their amazing care for our seniors, and applaud them for creating such a worthwhile solution to an ongoing public issue.

– Matt McPhee, Greenbrae

Best Places to Work 2015

Whistlestop (Marin Senior Coordinating Council)

We just heard the good news! For the second year in a row, Whistlestop has been named one of the North Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work. Whistlestop is honored and humbled to receive this accolade for 2015.

By Gary Quackenbush, Special to the Business Journal

Best Places to Work 2015SAN RAFAEL — Whistlestop promotes active and independent lives for Marin County’s older adults, and people with disabilities and health challenges, by providing transportation to appointments and programs at extremely low cost.

“I’m filled with gratitude every day when I see the dedication, commitment and compassion our employees give to our clients,” said CEO Joe O’Hehir.

“Each team member enjoys his or her job, which is focused on ensuring that every adult in Marin has the opportunity to age with dignity, independence and grace. Thanks to our devoted employees, Whistlestop has become the surrogate family for thousands of older adults who face loneliness and isolation.”

An employee said, “Everyone is genuinely concerned about each others’ welfare and happiness. I was sick last week and my boss dropped off Gatorade at my house so I didn’t have to leave home!”

Another worker added, “Our friends and family members are always welcome to visit and eat at the Jackson Café, our on-site restaurant, where employees receive a discount. I can also bring my four-legged family member to work, which is a huge benefit.”

The company encourages and supports employee development and regularly promotes from within.

“We have a good team, and everyone is a team player. Management and staff are very polite — it’s hard to find a wonderful place like this.”

Reprinted from the Northbaybusinessjournal.com

I nearly burned down the house this morning-June 24, 2015

I nearly burned down the house this morning-June 24, 2015
By Marty Orgel

I woke up early Saturday morning, the first in the house to rise. It’s one of my favorite times of the day; the morning sun, and a pot of water on the stove for fresh coffee. Until the smoke alarm went off. Then a second, and a third, and as I remember, at least five smoke alarms blaring all at once. Read more…

Whistlestop address an important need – July 19, 2015

Whistlestop address an important need - July 19, 2015
I have been volunteering at Whistlestop for over two years. I deliver food for the Meals on Wheels program and also distribute food for its Brown Bag program.

I’ve had a firsthand view of the needs of many of the seniors in Marin County.

Not only do I support Whistlestop and its plans to redevelop its building at the existing location, this project is helping make a better future for our seniors, their families and those that will soon become senior citizens.

I truly hope the local elected officials see the benefits this project will bring to downtown San Rafael and surrounding communities.

Marin is facing some serious issues when it comes to providing housing that is affordable, in a great location and available.

For the sake of future generations, I hope our local officials will support organizations that are trying to address some of our most serious issues – now.

– Phil Dito, Greenbrae

Ways to Get Around for Marin Seniors-June 25, 2015

Ways to Get Around for Marin Seniors-June 25, 2015

Marin IJ Readers’ Forum for June 25

Thank you for shining a spotlight on the critical transportation needs of Marin’s senior population in your front-page story on Monday, “Ride program for seniors could be model for county.”

Whistlestop is following this great example with the launch of CarePool, a new volunteer driver program serving seniors from Sausalito to Novato with funding support from Marin Transit and Marin General Hospital. Read more…

Tooting our Horn!

Tooting our Horn!For the second year in a row, Whistlestop has been named one of the North Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work.

Whistlestop is honored and humbled to receive this accolade.

“I’m filled with gratitude every day when I see the dedication, commitment and compassion our employees give to our clients,” said CEO Joe O’Hehir Read More…

Winners are selected by the magazine’s editorial staff. Recipients were judged on diversity, employee benefits and perks, family-friendly workplace, and community involvement.

Joe O’Hehir radio interview with KEAR Radio-June 26, 2015

Joe O’Hehir radio interview with KEAR Radio-June 26, 2015