Religious Leaders’ Gathering

RLG Flyer Aug 2018

In partnership with the Aging Action Initiative, the Marin Interfaith Council will be holding a Religious Leaders’ Gathering on resources and supports for older adults in Marin. All are welcome.

Thursday, August 23, 2018
The Dominican Sisters Gathering Space
1520 Grand Avenue, San Rafael


Feel free to share the flyer below with coworkers, friends, and interested parties. There is no registration fee, just a suggested donation at the door.

RLG Flyer Aug 2018 FINAL

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

Our Families with Memory Loss

Senior Access

By Dana Pepp and Jim Ward

Everyone knows someone with dementia. It is estimated that up to 8,000 adults in Marin County are currently diagnosed with memory loss, and that number is growing rapidly as our population ages.

Luckily, Marin has various supports for families with memory loss: two high-quality adult day programs — Marin Adult Day Health Center and Senior Access — as well as many home care providers, including JFCS, that provide dementia care.

We say “families with memory loss,” because this journey really does affect the whole family, including friends and neighbors. In a recent survey, we asked respondents how many people are affected by their loved one’s memory loss. One caregiver responded: 24. Twenty-four people directly affected by one person’s diagnosis and journey into memory loss!

This journey is really challenging! There are lots of unknowns: daily ups and downs, plenty of stress and loss, but also plenty of laughs. At Senior Access, we support the caregivers by providing daily respite and support groups. We support clients by creating a loving, fun, engaging, social, and stimulating environment. We have created a program and a culture in which love, respect, compassion, and fun are valued.

Senior Access’ day programs as well as other family support services help loved ones age in place for as long as possible. The challenge we often face is that many families wait a long time — too long — to connect with respite and support services. Denial, resistance, and feeling that a loved one isn’t “old enough” or “ready enough” are common refrains. But the sooner families can connect with support services, the better for all involved.

The community-based programs and medical providers in Marin strive to work collaboratively to provide families with a menu of opportunities for loved ones. We meet quarterly to share best practices, build relationships, and streamline referrals. Through the Family Caregiver Support Program, administered by the Alzheimer’s Association, clients are provided free opportunities to try various support services throughout Marin. There are also currently researchers in Marin, including Drs. Bredesen and Ornish, working on lifestyle protocols to prevent and reduce symptoms of dementia.

Next time you speak with a friend, neighbor, or family member who is concerned about memory loss, please encourage them to visit their doctor for a neurological exam. And know that there are plenty of supports in Marin County for families with dementia.

Senior Access is celebrating 45 years supporting families with memory loss in Marin County. Please check out our video and website at

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

6th Convening Recap!

MCF 6th Convening

Shirin Vakharia of Marin Community Foundation presents at AAI’s 6th Convening.

From Program Director Linda Jackson:

The highlight of last month was the Aging Action Initiative’s 6th Convening.

We had a full room, dozens of new people, and beaucoup de enthusiasm for the sessions.

Our six Convenings have attracted nearly 500 people. They represent over 130 agencies, nonprofits, and organizations in Marin; 24 agencies have sent three or more people to at least one convening. Our reach is growing because people understand the value of what AAI brings to the work of an age-friendly Marin. Here are some “best parts” comments from this year’s evaluation forms:

  • I was inspired by the four individuals who opened the day. An entertaining and introspective start to the event.
  • So much concern & energy re. making Marin a healthy, secure, safe place to live.
  • Meeting new people; learning about what’s happening in community for seniors and how I can get involved more.
  • Opportunity to network; blend of public, community, and health perspectives.
  • Lens on Aging Equity — questions and discussions at our tables.
  • Reframing aging to be more effective in talking about issues facing older adults.

AAI educates! The morning began with ‘listening in’ to four Marin residents reflect on aging. Read Terri Dowling’s comments on growing older here.

Most of the day was dedicated to learning, thinking, and talking about equity. Laura Eberly of YWCA SF & Marin led two sessions about our own equity-related experiences and perceptions, and about the structure and outlook of our own organizations. You can learn more about the work and offerings of the YWCA at This history lesson through the eyes of an African American is most insightful:

Shirin Vakharia of Marin Community Foundation moderated a session titled “Bringing Home More than a Tee-Shirt” about the just-concluded national American Society on Aging conference. Not all of us were able to attend the conference in San Francisco, so we brought it back with a panel discussion of highlights and table talks about what people learned. What did we talk about?

  • Livable Communities: housing, transportation, open space
  • Integrated health care models, social determinants of health, and LTSS + CBOs
  • Stigma-resistance and denial and the need to reframe public thinking for acceptance of supports and services for older people
  • “Solo aging” — people without kids who are now without family or spouse support
  • Isolation and health impacts
  • Caregivers: Housing and finding caregivers, workforce/immigration concerns, services in rural communities
  • Hospice/palliative care in home

In addition to equity and the ASA conference, we also talked about ageism and reframing, or revising the way we talk about older people, and the benefits and challenges of growing older.

AAI advocates! The last session of the Convening was all about the four issues we are focusing on this year: housing, aging-in-community, economic security, and transportation. Here are some of the inspirational protest signs made in the afternoon:

  • Work Here. Live Here. Stay Here.
  • End Social Isolation – Visit a Neighbor
  • Reframe our Game to Everyone’s Gain!
  • Livable wages for caregivers now!!!
  • Keep Older People Mobile

AAI promotes service collaboration! The whole day was about this — 74% of attendees reported making at least five new connections and a third of attendees met more than 10 new people.

Thanks to all who came and shared and connected! This is one of the reasons AAI came into being — to make the most of our connections so we can do the most for older people in Marin.

See you around Marin~

P.S. Miss the Convening? Email with your name and organization to request access to panel summaries and presentations.

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

FREE Tax and Financial Assistance

March 1, 2018 | It’s tax time! You can find help with tax preparation and financial planning through these free SparkPoint programs.

42604537 - close up u.s. taxes papers

Get Free Tax Assistance

SparkPoint’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service is a free alternative to paid tax preparation. The IRS sponsors the VITA program which community-based organizations coordinate locally. Our volunteers are trained according to IRS guidelines to fill out basic tax forms, including the ones needed to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit for eligible households with a 2017 income of $54,000 or less.

Walk-in only at SparkPoint 409 4th Street in San Rafael.

  • Tuesdays: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Fridays:  10:00 a .m. to 2:00 p.m.

Tax hot line: (415) 526-7539

Questions?  Please call (415) 526-7530

After March 23rd, tax payers in Marin can continue to receive free services from the following tax program sites:

Site locations:

  1. Mill Valley, Mill Valley Community Center at 180 Camino Alto  (415) 383-1370

Tuesdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

  1. Novato, North Marin Community Services at 1907 Novato Blvd. (415) 897-4147

Mondays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  1. San Rafael Community Center at 618 B Street (415) 485-3348

Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

  1. Northgate First Congregational Church 8 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael (no phone)

Tuesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturdays, 10:00 a .m. to 3:00 p.m.

  1. Fairfax Library at 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

Mondays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (415) 453-8151

Also, is a self-service option for people with income less than $64,000 to file both federal and state tax returns for free. The website uses H&R Block software and provides free guidance through a helpline, email, or online chat.


Taking Charge of Your Finances

April 6, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

San Rafael Library, 1100 E St, San Rafael, CA 94901

This SparkPoint workshop focuses on the fundamentals of managing cash flow and identifying cost savings to create a spending plan. Topics include the importance of distinguishing wants from needs, tracking personal finance information and accessing resources to maximize existing income. We will talk about social security and how it fits into people’s overall financial plans. There will be opportunity for questions and answers to engage with the audience on specific issues.

Marvin Brook, the presenter and an experienced SparkPoint Marin volunteer, served as the financial controller of the United States Postal Service (USPS) in Northern California for 15 years. He introduced financial literacy topics to postal employees while at the USPS. Since his retirement, he volunteers by bringing financial literacy awareness to a variety of audiences through community development programs serving low-income families, homeless adults, high school students and others.

For more information, contact Nancy Carlisle, Project Coordinator at 415-526-7541 or

Please \"like\" us to stay connected:

AAI SPOTLIGHT: Emergency Preparedness


 Marin County CERT Coordinator Maggie Lang shared about emergency preparedness, special considerations for older adults, and how collaboration is everything in her vision for an age-friendly Marin.

Maggie Lang 2015What kind of work do you do?

I am the Coordinator for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program for the County of Marin and also work with the Get Ready program. CERT is a national program under FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) with more than 600,000 CERT-trained emergency volunteers.

In Marin, we have 10 CERT classes a year in five different locations, including Novato, San Rafael, Central Marin, Southern Marin and West Marin. Residents from 14 – 90 years of age take the classes with an average age of 52. Classes are about half men and half women. We partner with local fire departments to put on the CERT classes. The classes cost $45 to cover the cost of class materials. We also offer scholarships.

Triage AreaIn the last few weeks during the Sonoma and Napa County fires, CERTs worked at the Civic Center and Terra Linda High School shelters, assisted Mill Valley staff in a shelter set up at Tam High (which was not needed in the end), and set up and maintained a site at the Strawberry Seminary for fire fighters in Sonoma to come here to rest and breath some clean air.

The Get Ready program started in Tiburon 10 years ago. Get Ready is a free county-sponsored two hour training, facilitated by local fire departments and community volunteers. The Get Ready program teaches people what they need to be prepared to take care of themselves and their families. For more information or to see the class schedule, click here.



How did you get into this kind of work?

My background is in nursing. I was a nurse practitioner in pediatrics. I started volunteering and teaching first aid classes in my kids’ schools. In 2011, the County received a grant for a countywide training program, so I’ve been coordinator now for almost seven years.

How does someone sign up for CERT classes?

You can find info, classes or contact us through the Ready Marin website. Registration is offered online through PayPal or by printing the registration form and mailing a check for $45.00.

What are the benefits of the CERT and Get Ready programs?

We provide people with information and safety skills for disaster preparedness. It can feel overwhelming – I have three kids, and used to worry about what I needed to have to take care of them for 5-7 days if a disaster occurred. We need to have water stored up first, and camping gear is helpful for people who want to shelter in place.


Following a disaster and depending on advice from our public safety professionals, residents will either need to stay at home or leave their home for a safer location. If families are able to shelter-in-place at home, they need to have enough supplies of food and water for five to seven days. Before Katrina, it used to be for only three days, but this has been expanded to a week.

Older residents benefit by knowing what to have on hand to be able to take care of themselves for up to a week after a disaster.  For example, they need to have food and water, a first aid kit and medications. They also need extra glasses, batteries for hearing aids and any mobility assistance. We are there for people to reach out about their personal situations, and we help people take advantage of the information resources so that they can be prepared.


In what ways does your work/organization help our older adults?

Our CERT classes are open to all residents and seniors are welcome. We have had several active 90-year olds take classes! We don’t teach any differently for older residents, and we are able to teach our classes to people that may have limitations.

The sad take-away from the Northern California wildfires is that a number of the people who died were older residents with mobility issues. The speed of the fire and that it occurred at night made it very difficult for people to help each other.

We emphasize that disaster preparedness is about being prepared and about neighbors helping neighbors. Neighbors can check on their older neighbors, give people a ride, or help people who have difficulty getting out.  Firefighters are fighting fires and doing what they can to assist with evacuation but it’s important for older residents to have a plan with family members and neighbors to assist them if necessary. Our Ready Seniors program offers guidelines and resources to help seniors plan and prepare for an emergency.

Please share one of your favorite stories:

I have two stories, both about women who took our CERT classes. They were able to utilize the skills they learned in the classes to put out small fires that would have become big fires if they hadn’t known what to do.

older-adult-putting-out-fireThe first woman told me about a fire that started in a frying pan while she was cooking. She had never used a fire extinguisher before and, because of her CERT training, she was able to use it to put out the fire before it became a larger fire.

Then, during a class last spring, a woman told us about a fire that had started on the hillside behind her house. She grabbed her fire extinguisher, and knew enough to be able to put out the fire. She called the Fire Department, and they came out and said great job!

Both felt empowered enough to understand the situation and used the skills they had learned in the class to put these fires out.

Tell us about your/your organization’s involvement in Aging Action Initiative:

I stay informed through the website and newsletter. I enjoyed reading last month’s newsletter!

Specifically, tell us about your relationships/partnerships in the AAI network:

We work with the whole community! We worked with the Canal Welcome Center to establish a community emergency plan for the Canal neighborhood in San Rafael and Marin City. I personally attended the meetings with the Canal Emergency Preparedness Council and Marin City Disaster Council.

We also work with businesses, such as AutoDesk and Whole Foods, and non-profits such as Senior Access and Mill Valley Village. The members of the AAI network might like know about a business ready program we offer to help them be prepared. It’s called The Marin Business Emergency Readiness Program.


We have many community partners. A big partnership is with Marin County Medical Reserve Corps, which is a national program. It’s for people trained in medicine, public health, safety, logistics, project management, behavioral health, and other support areas to be part of a response team when needed.

What is your vision of an age-friendly Marin?

An age-friendly Marin is one where neighbors are aware of all the people in their neighborhood and are assisting people who are older. This includes people who may have mobility or language limitations, so they can be recognized and part of the community and not be isolated. An age-friendly Marin is one where neighbors are helping neighbors so everyone is included in everything.

Aging Action Initiative (AAI) is a collective effort of more than 65 different agencies, grassroots organizations, commission and neighborhood groups, funded by the County of Marin and coordinated by MARINSPACE, collaborating for an age-friendly environment. For more information visit or connect with us on Facebook.

Please \"like\" us to stay connected: