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San Rafael’s Whistlestop: A place ‘full of life’

San Rafael’s Whistlestop: A place ‘full of life’The new SMART train tracks at the downtown San Rafael station tightly parallel Whistlestop, which has been getting its fair share of attention lately. An illustration of Whistlestop’s planned new building just a few blocks away caused a kerfuffle about the design.

But how many people really know what Whistlestop does? Many passersby and SMART riders might think that with its proximity to the tracks, a cafe and a name like Whistlestop, it must be a transportation hub with access to tickets and information.

They’d be wrong.

Whistlestop is a nonprofit organization that works with aging adults and people with disabilities. And while volunteer greeters couldn’t be kinder or more patient with confused travelers wandering through their doors, they’re also busy: 287 Whistlestop volunteers worked with 11,363 people last year in a variety of programs and services.

San Rafael, like the rest of Marin County, has its fair share of aging adults. That may be why, in late January, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution declaring 2018 “The Year of the Older Adult.” Whistlestop plays a significant role in keeping an aging population connected to people and activities that engage them in life, from transportation to the center, to classes, meals in the Jackson Cafe, social events and volunteer opportunities.

Take Lola Duarte, an elegantly dressed woman with a sparkle in her eyes, celebrating her 89th birthday this week. Every Tuesday through Friday, she socializes and knits or crochets with her circle of friends. They often donate their creations to the Whistlestop gift shop as one way of giving back.

The new SMART train tracks at the downtown San Rafael station tightly parallel Whistlestop, which has been getting its fair share of attention lately. An illustration of Whistlestop’s planned new building just a few blocks away caused a kerfuffle about the design.

But how many people really know what Whistlestop does? Many passersby and SMART riders might think that with its proximity to the tracks, a cafe and a name like Whistlestop, it must be a transportation hub with access to tickets and information.

They’d be wrong.

Whistlestop is a nonprofit organization that works with aging adults and people with disabilities. And while volunteer greeters couldn’t be kinder or more patient with confused travelers wandering through their doors, they’re also busy: 287 Whistlestop volunteers worked with 11,363 people last year in a variety of programs and services.

San Rafael, like the rest of Marin County, has its fair share of aging adults. That may be why, in late January, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution declaring 2018 “The Year of the Older Adult.” Whistlestop plays a significant role in keeping an aging population connected to people and activities that engage them in life, from transportation to the center, to classes, meals in the Jackson Cafe, social events and volunteer opportunities.

Take Lola Duarte, an elegantly dressed woman with a sparkle in her eyes, celebrating her 89th birthday this week. Every Tuesday through Friday, she socializes and knits or crochets with her circle of friends. They often donate their creations to the Whistlestop gift shop as one way of giving back.

She is one of those volunteers every nonprofit hopes to find. She came to take music lessons on the ukulele and loved the place so much, she decided to give of her time and skills — of which she possesses many. A life-long volunteer, Fisher knew a solid organization when she saw one.

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