By Will O’Neill, Newport Beach City Councilman
In between scooping ice cream for a hundred root beer floats and dancing with my daughter to the Tijuana Dogs in the Evelyn Hart Event Center at the OASIS Senior Center last weekend, I observed yet again the incredible people that serve our City’s seniors.
Senior services will continue to grow as our demographics shift. According to a recent report from the Southern California Association of Governments, the 65+ age group added the most population to our City since 2000 (7,157 people). We still see 37.5 percent of our housing stock having been built before 1970. This means that as more people age in place and our senior population grows, our senior services become increasingly important.
Fortunately for our City, our senior population has been truly flourishing in activity and support. Volunteers have provided over 39,600 hours back into our community by serving as greeters, instructors, and home-delivered meals, to name just a few. These volunteers are often led by the incomparable dedication of the non-profit Friends of OASIS.
The role of Friends has expanded in its 40 years of existence, with Friends providing travel services, gift shop, sailing club, monthly social gatherings, and fundraising events.
Friends continues to provide substantial financial support to the transportation program and recreational activities. Their dedication encompasses Dale Carnegie’s belief that “the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.”
In addition to our core volunteers, our city spent over $3 million last year on a mixture of excellent staff and maintenance and operations. Our city annually provides over 12,000 rides through our transportation services. Over 37,000 meals have been served at OASIS and through Meals on Wheels. Over 82,500 participants enjoyed recreational class. And our OASIS fitness center received over 74,000 attendees last year alone! Our appreciation continues for our Senior Services Manager Celeste Jardine-Haug and her staff.
One final note: as we do experience increased numbers of seniors aging in place, Newport Beach has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Orange County to help low income seniors in need of critical home repairs. If you have any questions about the Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program (SHARP), please contact the OASIS Senior Center. Together we will continue to thrive.