A $25,000 grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation will help more low-income seniors obtain the government income, health and housing benefits they are entitled to, through the work of Senior Advocates of the Desert (SAOTD). The nonprofit organization assists seniors through the often arduous process necessary to receive benefits including Medicare, Medi-Cal, In Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Retirement and Disability, Supplemental Security, veterans’ assistance, subsidized housing, utility discounts, and other services.
“Most seniors would rather be self-sufficient and not have to ask for frequent handouts to help pay for their basic expenses such as food, utilities or medical copays,” said Chris O’Hanlon, Founder and Executive SAOTD. “Senior Advocates of the Desert can often help seniors complete complicated paperwork that allows seniors to live independently and with a sense of dignity and security.”
Currently, SAOTD provides free assistance to about 1100 low-income seniors annually. Grant funds from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation will continue the organization’s outreach, now done primarily over the phone and via virtual meetings, which help seniors secure the government assistance they qualify for. Funds will also assist seniors facing immediate financial crises affecting their health, safety or wellbeing, including rent and utility subsidies, home repairs and medical and dental expenses, not covered by insurance.
“It’s important that someone is looking out for our community’s seniors. The assistance that Senior Advocates of the Desert provides can effectively change people’s lives,” said Catharine Reed, Vice President of Charitable Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation.
Before the coronavirus pandemic closed area senior centers for gatherings, Senior Advocates of the Desert offered specific office hours at four local senior centers. Now offering virtual meetings and some social distance visits, the organization is becoming even more meaningful to some seniors living in extremely isolated circumstances.
“For some homebound seniors Senior Advocates of the Desert has become more of a lifeline than ever. The work that the advocates are doing is so important to our senior community,” said Jerry Upham, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates KESQ News Channel 3 and KPSP CBS Local 2.
Through the Coachella Valley Spotlight partnership with the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation and News Channel 3, Senior Advocates of the Desert was featured on News Channel 3 programming, in public service announcements and on kesq.com. For more information about the organization, call 760-202-1024 or go to www.saotd.org.