Monday, 12 March 2018

One Lonesome Cowboy Who Made It Home

Every day our Ombudsmen encounter the challenges of human frailty and advocate for the rights of those who are often alone and forgotten in long-term care facilities. The role of the Ombudsman is rewarding yet heartbreaking. It takes a special person to be an Ombudsman.

One of our Ombudsmen helped an elderly gentleman named Richard*. At 88 years young, Richard is soft-spoken with a slight southern accent. He worked in the Southern California aerospace industry for years. Richard was placed in a nursing home following a hospital stay, and he required 24-hour care because he suffered from chronic medical conditions.

His second wife notified the nursing home social worker that she no longer could care for Richard and did not want him back home. But, at the same time, she did continue draining his checking account of his Social Security and retirement funds that Richard now needed to pay for his nursing home care.

When complex cases of care arise our Ombudsmen are often called in to provide guidance and advocacy, protection, and problem resolution.

The Ombudsman for this case suggested a care meeting. The care meeting was scheduled, and Richard’s daughter phoned in from Kentucky – while his wife, facility staff, and Adult Protective Services (APS) participated at the facility. During the meeting, the wife announced she no longer wanted Richard in her life. Richard’s tears flowed with the news, and it also broke the hearts of all in the room. Richard could not bring himself to contact the police about the missing funds in his checking account, possibly due to any number of emotions from embarrassment to denial or just the heartbreak of rejection.  Fortunately his daughter, who was on his account, was able to staunch the flow of funds to the wife who didn’t want him.

Richard’s health soon started to decline in the nursing home, turning into depression and weakening physical health. Our Ombudsman urged the daughter to consider moving Richard back to Kentucky. The Ombudsman executed an Advance Healthcare Directive where Richard named his daughter as his medical decision-maker. The daughter began refurbishing his old Kentucky home and a cousin agreed to live with Richard in Kentucky as his caregiver.

When the day came to fly home to Kentucky, Richard waited patiently for his daughter to arrive. He wore a string tie, an immaculate white cowboy shirt with pearl buttons, and beamed with happiness. His Southern accent even seemed more pronounced. His life was going to start over; he was getting a second chance and it would start where it all began, living with his family again in Kentucky.

Last Christmas, our Ombudsman received an update on Richard. His holidays were spent in Kentucky surrounded by loved ones, family, and friends. His life is once again filled with joy and security, surrounded by people who truly care for him.

Stories like Richard’s happen more often than one could imagine. Disaster and heartbreak often strike when a person is at the most vulnerable point of his or her adult life.  It can seem overwhelming and as if there is no one to turn to.

The Council on Aging – Southern California wants you and your loved ones to know, that you are not alone. We are here to help. We care. We can make our community a better place, and we can protect the lives of older and disabled adults together.

If you found this story inspiring, please consider making a donation to help the Council on Aging – Southern California continue to help seniors like Richard and the many more in our community who need our support.

Thank you.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Ombudsman on Front Page in the Orange County Register!

O.C. woman listens to the elderly when others turn away

Lahoma Snyder, an ombudsman, advocates for residents of assisted living homes who may not have anyone else on their side.

Paulina Kosareff, left, tells Lahoma Snyder that she “loves” living at the Robin's Nest, an Anaheim board-and-care home.BY THERESA WALKER / STAFF WRITER  Published: July 27, 2014

Lahoma Snyder heads to the second floor of La Palma Royale, an assisted living residence in Anaheim, when she passes an aged man inching down a hallway, stooped over his walker.“You need help?” she asks.“No,” he says. “Thank you.”The conversation is part of Snyder’s job. As a residential care ombudsman, Snyder’s profession is to look out for the interests of people like the man with the walker.About 28,000 Orange County residents live in long-term care, and at least half don’t have friends or family to advocate for them.That’s where the Orange County Council on Aging’s Ombudsman Program steps in, with men and women like Snyder who pay attention to individual needs.

Ombudsmen don’t regulate the facilities, but state law says they must be allowed access and the opportunity to meet privately with residents.

Snyder is 80, almost certainly the oldest ombudsman in Orange County. At an age when her contemporaries might be seeking to move into an assisted living home, she works nearly full time keeping such places accountable.

Two knee surgeries have slowed her down, and during a recent visit Snyder jokes with the operators of the Robin’s Nest, an Anaheim board-and-care home on her rounds, to save a room for her.

But Snyder, who makes herself available 24/7, has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

“I hope I can make it a few more years, till I can’t walk and I can’t talk,” says Snyder, who keeps her blond hair long and her nails well-manicured.

“I can’t imagine not being able to go out there and look out for the welfare of these people who have no one. I just couldn’t sleep at night.”

Nothing escapes her eyes, her ears, her nose.

Or her heart.

Inside the elevator at La Palma Royale, she recognizes another older man.

“You still smelling smoke?” she asks him.

A while back, the man had been staying in a room where he was bothered by secondhand cigarette smoke. Snyder spoke to management and got his room changed.

“It’s a dream come true,” the man tells Snyder.

“Thanks to you.”

Lahoma Snyder examines a scratch on Barbara Johnson's head during a visit to the Robin's Nest.


Snyder is one of 16 paid ombudsmen who routinely check on the welfare of residents in the county’s 1,100 licensed long-term care facilities. They also respond to complaints about unlicensed facilities.

Another 70 people volunteer as ombudsmen for the nonprofit program, which started in 1976 and operates under both state and federal mandates.

Snyder’s compassion for the elderly stems from her childhood in Wichita, Kan. An 11-year-old Lahoma – it’s an Indian name meaning “peace and tranquility” – spent afternoons after school helping an elderly neighbor with arthritis. She was paid $1 a week.

She and her husband raised four children in Stanton. Her husband died two years ago. She still lives in the home they bought in 1963.

Years spent working part time providing in-home services to shut-ins, and time spent taking care of her husband’s elderly mother, father, aunt, uncle and grandmother, gave Snyder insight into the needs of the elderly. She also learned about the limitations of what families can or will provide.

She started with the ombudsman program in 1992, attracted by an ad in the PennySaver.

There were so few volunteers back then that she made the rounds of 106 facilities.

Now Snyder is assigned to 14 residences, all in Anaheim, ranging from converted houses with six beds to 200-bed complexes.

Most residents in long-term care are seniors. Many don’t have much income, relying on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income.

And they often are reluctant to speak to management or other authorities if something – or someone – is bothering them.

Unannounced inspections are rare from the state agencies charged with overseeing the county’s network of small board-and-care homes, large assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing homes.

While the state isn’t often around, ombudsmen like Snyder are.

“Without us, there would be nobody looking out for these people,” says Kathleen Weidner, who became director of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program five years ago

An ombudsman’s role can range from something as simple as Snyder’s “You need help?” to contacting police when there is suspicion of abuse, or filing complaints with state authorities.

Most often, they try to work with facility owners and staff, educating and negotiating to address the concerns of residents or their family members.

In 2008, state budget cuts nearly wiped out the ombudsman program, cutting 15 of 18 paid staff. All but one continued working as volunteers.

Late last year, the program got a boost, with a $675,000 Pacific Foundation grant, spread over three years. Money also comes from the federal government and other private donations.

Snyder, who survived the budget cuts, is paid for 30 hours a week through a federal block grant awarded by the Anaheim City Council.

But she’s no clock watcher.

“If I get on something, I stick with it until it’s finished.”

 Ombudsman Lahoma Snyder, left, shares a laugh with Suzanne Hawley, 68, who resides at La Palma Royale, an assisted living facility in Anaheim.


Technically, an ombudsman is not supposed to get personally involved.

“I’m probably the worst ombudsman at this,” Snyder says about keeping a professional distance. “I just can’t help it.”

Weidner recalls working with Snyder during one of her first days as program director. They went to visit a woman who complained that her one pair of shoes had been stolen.

“I guess she had told Lahoma that before, because Lahoma digs into her purse and pulls out a pair of shoes. I go, ‘What?’I’m thinking, ‘God, I love this woman.’”

Snyder had paid for the shoes herself. After that, the program created a “dignity fund” to help pay for basic items that cost $100 or less.

Snyder likes to drop in at mealtimes to see what the residents are fed and chat as they eat. At one place, she stayed for several meals because, she says, “I couldn’t figure out what the food was.”

She suggested the home begin serving meat, potatoes and vegetables.

During her recent afternoon visit to La Palma Royale, Snyder spends time discussing medication needs and favorite authors with resident Suzanne Hawley, a writer who likes Joyce Carol Oates and Jeffrey Eugenides.

“If I come across any of their books, I’ll know to get them for you,” Snyder says.

Anthony Bertolet is president of the La Palma Royale residents’ council. He credits Snyder for the voice she lends to the concerns of the elderly in long-term care facilities where social workers are lacking.

“We’d be in trouble. We need Lahoma,” says Bertolet, who has spent 12 years in assisted living. “She does all the stuff we need to get done, that we can’t do ourselves.”

Snyder says she feels fortunate to be able to provide some dignity and protection.

“I’ve enriched my life more than I’ve probably enriched someone else’s.”

Snyder listens to Anthony Bertolet, president of the residents' council at La Palma Royale in Anaheim. As an ombudsman with the Council on Aging, Snyder is an advocate for people in long-term care.

What ombudsmen do

Here are some numbers from a report detailing the activity of the Council on Aging’s ombudsmen from July 2012-June 2013:

5,444 unannounced visits to long-term care facilities

1,499 complaints received and responded to

713 resident council meetings attended

293 advanced healthcare directives witnessed

389 abuse allegations received

Source: Kathleen Weidner, director of Orange County Council on Aging Ombudsman Program

 Ombudsmen Lahoma Snyder, foreground left, asks Irma Erickson, a resident at Anaheim Residential Care, how she's feeling. Snyder makes sure there are no medications lying around the bathroom counter, that knives and other dangerous items are out of reach, the first aid closet is locked and more.

Find out more

Issues that the Council on Aging’s residential care advocates deal with include: physical mistreatment of residents; lost or stolen personal items: infection control; timely and correct dispensing of medications; cleanliness and maintenance; food and activities.

Call 714-479-0107 or 800-300-6222 to find out more about the ombudsman program.

Volunteers are asked to commit to at least 12 hours a month. There is a particular need for more volunteers who speak Vietnamese or Korean.

More information is available by clicking on “Advocacy & Protection” at

Contact the writer: 714-796-7793 or

Thursday, 19 December 2013

COA Volunteer Donna Rosenzweig – Being a Gift to Seniors

Spotlight on Donna Rosenzweig, HICAP Counselor and Annual Enrollment/Logistics Team member

Mom and Donna

HICAP Counselor Donna Rosenzweig. Her mother is a big fan of the NY Yankees.

The Medicare Annual Election Period (Oct. 15th to Dec. 7th) is the HICAP Program’s busiest time of year. Counselors are assigned, not only to their community counseling sites, but also are rotated into the HICAP call center. HICAP volunteers join ‘enrollment teams’ during the Annual Enrollment Period. HICAP Counselors help people compare their current MA/PD or stand-alone Part D plans with what is available in 2014. This is critically important for Medicare beneficiaries to evaluate and compare health plan for cost and coverage.

Now that the Medicare Annual Election Period is over and the Annual Enrollment clinics have passed, we have a little time to think back on what HICAP Counselors accomplished together at the enrollment clinics.

I recently spoke to HICAP Counselor Donna Rosenzweig who attended many enrollment clinics. Donna recently became registered as a counselor but was not deterred by being new to the enrollment clinic process. I asked her if she had any memorable moments from the enrollment clinics. She said that there were a number of fun experiences. “At the Chinese bi-lingual Santa Ana Senior Center enrollment clinic , the people were so grateful that I was there that they kept shaking my hand and offering me food!  At the Southwest Community Center in Santa Ana, people thought I spoke Spanish – I don’t. They treated me so nice anyway.”

Before she retired, Donna was a Claims Manager with a Compensation Insurance Fund. She loves numbers. Even with her financial background, she had to admit that she knew nothing about Medicare. She firmly believes that the HICAP training is a real gift to offer seniors who simply do not know or are not aware of their Medicare options.

Donna’s parents married in 1942. Her father fought in Battle of the Bulge and in the Philippines during WWII. “Everyone in that generation sacrificed and suffered as part of life. Nothing was given to them. They deserve some respect and help now.” Donna’s mother now lives alone, as so many seniors do, and she knows that she could not even begin to help her mom if it were not for COA and the information she learned as a counselor.

I asked Donna if she plans to be a HICAP Counselor next year. She replied, “Absolutely. I’m not going anywhere. The backbone and success of the HICAP Program is achieved through the dedicated registered HICAP Counselors.”

If you would like to join Donna and be the backbone of our HICAP Program, the next counselor training is scheduled for Feb. 2014. Please contact Mary Ozurovich, HICAP Coordinator of Volunteers at 714-560-0424 ext. 225 for more information.

Mary Ozurovich
HICAP Coordinator of Volunteers
Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Sometimes Even Santa Gets Lonely…

Arlen-Baby HeadshotsAfter 26 years sharing the wonder of the holidays and listening to thousands of children’s special wishes for Christmas, December 2012 was the first time Arlen could not get into the spirit to be Santa Claus. Arlen needed help to end the deep sadness that comes from feeling isolated, ignored and invisible.

Now 75, Arlen has had a full life. As a veteran, he served in the Air Force designing spy satellites during the Cold War, he enjoyed a long career as an engineer, he has been a husband and father, and a loving caregiver to his wife, Marie.

Arlen knew when he met Marie that he had found his soul mate. They shared a long and loving 37 year marriage until Marie passed away after her three year struggle with Alzheimer’s. Singlehandedly, Arlen took care of Marie for those three years until he could no longer care for her. Sadly, he had to move her into a memory care facility. She lived there just one week before she died. Arlen says “I was relieved that she was no longer suffering, but I was so sad that I was now alone.”

After Marie died, Arlen was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and began sinking into a deep depression. He no longer had Marie sitting across from him at each meal and his support system was limited. He rarely left home and slept throughout the day. Fortunately, Kaiser Permanente’s Special Needs Program understood his situation and referred Arlen to the Council on Aging’s Socialization Program.

Arlen is just one of our community’s many seniors who have done everything right throughout their lives and now experience the pain of feeling alone.

Please support the Council on Aging. A steady commitment from a caring person like you can transform the life of an isolated senior like Arlen. I hope that after hearing more about Arlen’s journey, you will consider making a contribution this year.

“It is easy to get depressed,” Arlen says “and it is difficult to overcome depression unless you have someone special–a companion who listens, who you can count on, who understands your feelings, and who knows how to draw you out of yourself.”

As an intern in the Council’s Socialization program, Jessica, 26, came into Arlen’s life when he needed someone the most. Jessica became Arlen’s Partner for Active Living (P.A.L.) companion. Jessica’s regular visit became the highlight of his week. Instead of sitting alone and waiting for something to happen, Arlen was now planning for their weekly activities. Arlen and Jessica enjoyed a variety of adventuresome activities; sometimes they simply had a meal together while Jessica listened to stories about his life.

“Sharing a meal with a good friend like Jessica is a major step,” says Arlen. “You don’t know how lonely it is to go to a restaurant by yourself and sit alone, day in and day out, with no one to talk to. It’s no wonder older people get depressed.”


Jessica built a trusting relationship with Arlen. When her internship ended, she continued to volunteer as his P.A.L. Arlen wishes that Jessica had the time to visit more than once a week. “Once a week is like wetting the tip of your tongue with one drop of water after three days in the desert; you want a full glass, not just a drop on the tip of your tongue.” Arlen is grateful that the Council on Aging provided him the care and support he received from the Socialization program. “Thank goodness the Council on Aging can step up and play a major part in the aging problem we now have in this country.”


Just as Arlen had listened to the special wishes of young children as Santa Claus, he now had someone special who listened to him.

Because Arlen benefited from his Council on Aging P.A.L., he no longer experiences deep, dark bouts of loneliness. He has progressed from being isolated to wanting to help others in similar situations. Now he participates in art classes and the lunch program at the Fullerton Senior Center, he plays golf at Coyote Hills, and sings in a senior choir. More importantly, he is now a mentor in a grief support group where he shares how his volunteer P.A.L., Jessica, and the Council on Aging changed his life.

Arlen is enjoying his life again. Best of all, this year he will return to his role as Santa at churches, in his neighborhood and wherever Santa might be needed.

Every time I meet a senior like Arlen, who has felt isolated, ignored and invisible, I’m reminded of the importance of your support. And I’m inspired by the compassion and commitment of special friends like you.

Please join us once again with a generous gift and help us transform the lives of older adults. Your help is so important. Thank you and Happy Holidays!


Lisa Wright Jenkins
President and CEO

P.S. Arlen says, “Jessica has been a bright light in my life.” With your gift, the Council on Aging will ensure that more isolated seniors have a bright light like Jessica in their lives.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Our Summer 2013 Newsletter is Here!

COA 2013 NewsletterOur Summer 2013 Newsletter is available!  In this issue, we focus on protecting our seniors from physical abuse, neglect, and financial abuse. As one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation, financial elder abuse has left many vulnerable seniors falling victim to various scams. One of the most common is the Grandparent Scam, which happened to George Weidner, the father of Kathleen Weidner, the Director of the Ombudsman Program. We tell George’s story and the story of Volunteer Ombudsmen who intervened to stop a financial predator from stealing from an assisted living resident. As is so often the case, the financial predator was a family member.

Most importantly, we’ve included helpful tips on  protecting yourself and your loved ones from financial abuse. Julie Schoen, Legal Counsel for COA, has provided additional information on recognizing different types of elder abuse and how it can be prevented.  It’s an extremely important issue that can only be solved by having a well-informed public, so please share our Summer 2013 Newsletter with your friends and family.


David Spear
Data Mgmt. and Comm. Specialist


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Joy Through Watercolors


Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.

In Soo Lee shows off her watercolor painting.

In Soo Lee displays her watercolor painting.

Several months ago, the Council on Aging Socialization Services Department  held a series of watercolor painting sessions over an 8 week period. These sessions were in partnership with Bowers Museum as part of the Treasure Project, which brings the arts to our diverse senior community.

The Treasures partnership not only brings special museum exhibitions and performances to seniors, it also provides the opportunity to explore their own artistic self-expression, build new skills, and has had a successful therapeutic effect among the participants involved in the process.

“I’m blessed in that they wanted a watercolor class. Everybody has talent. So I was invited to this group of talented people. I smiled all the way driving here in my car,” commented Donna Tryon, the art instructor who taught the weekly class.

One such talented individual was Martin. Despite being visually impaired, Martin was able to navigate his way across the canvas with the sense of touch and an interpreter who was able to guide him orally. “It was all tactile,” explained Donna. “He just constantly felt the paper. His watercolors are amazing. His last one had a bumble bee in it and I had to wonder how does he know to place the body, how does he know to place the wings. Their communication was all verbal, and his painting was all direct himself – from brush to paper.”

Martin painting with the sense of touch.

Martin painting with the sense of touch.

For some participants, it was a chance to find themselves.

In Soo Lee said that prior to the workshop, she was depressed with nothing to occupy her day.  She’s looking forward to the chance to paint more in the future. “It helps me forget about my stress,” she said. “I felt like I became a student again. I felt young. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I’m looking forward to more art classes and being happy. ”

Wan Son attributes his success in painting to Donna’s instruction and encouragement. It helped motivate him. Even more, he found comfort.  “When I was concentrating on the water coloring, it helped me forget my pain. Whatever I was feeling, I had time to de-stress.”

Landscape Watercolor by Wan Pae Son

For others, it was an opportunity to revisit memories of their past.

“I was very excited because as a child I learned how to draw and paint, and as an adult, I didn’t. It was great to be able to learn all the new things the instructor would teach,” said Leon.  He stood next to his work, a proud sense of accomplishment spreading across his face.

Leonel Castillo

Leonel Castillo

For Angel, it was a chance to do something he might not have otherwise been able to do. “I’m disabled, and at home, you feel really lonely. And you come over here, there is a big difference. I loved doing this painting and some of the exercises, visiting other places – all beautiful. I love this place.”

Angel Gomez

Angel Gomez

The result of their 8-week effort was revealed at BowersMuseum during a special open house in early July, which was followed by a show at the COA Socialization Services Department Office.

Donna summed up the entire experience nicely. “Give me somebody who wants to paint any day. I couldn’t ask for anything more. So to have 13-14 people who all want to paint – blank paper, choose their inspiration and they just start it. We could have gone two hours easy. They got used to the routine. They’re all business when they are here – it’s all about painting!”

The Watercolor Painting Class Photo

The Watercolor Painting Class and COA ReConnect Staff

For more information about attending an art class or for Socialization Services, contact Jena Reeder or (714)352-8820 Ext 209.

-David Spear
Data Management and Communications


Monday, 22 July 2013


Joy is often found in unexpected places.  Such was my experience when visiting my friend, Maria Zakich, and her Mom during their pool time at the Rehabilitation Institute of Southern California in Orange.  As fate would have it, the time I chose to visit would be the same as Theresa Walker, a reporter for The Orange County Register.

Maria and her mother

Theresa was there to capture a story about the sandwich generation – the challenges, the rewards, and the resources available to help navigate this time in life.   To watch Maria and her Mom together and to see the great love they clearly share brought so much joy to my day.  They are a wonderful example to all of honoring one’s mother and father.

Every day here at COA we are grateful for the seniors we are privileged to honor.  In Maria’s words, “It’s so important to be available for the elderly, whether they’re your parents or not.”


Tricia Homrighausen
Development and Communications Manager
Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Changing of the Guard

Milt Felsenfeld dedicated over a decade of his life to volunteer work at the Council on Aging.  When asked Milt described his role as an Ombudsman as “an advocate for the elderly”.  As an Ombudsman, he advocated for some of the most vulnerable people in our community – seniors residing in long term care homes.  In Milt’s words: “I never left a client without making them smile. That’s what I did best – I made people smile. I cried when they smiled.  That’s what being an Ombi was.”

Stan and Milt-2

Today, Milt finds himself on hospice and a resident of a long term care home – a fate that none of us really plan on, but some of us will one day face.  In Milt’s thinking though, he is now “in God’s waiting room” and he’s happy about that!  Milt still extends his compassion and caring – and love – not only to his fellow residents and the staff, but also to the lucky volunteer who is now Milt’s Ombudsman, Stan Woll.  Milt has been a true mentor to Stan and the two have developed a great friendship.  Stan shared this when asked what Milt taught him about being an Ombi:  “Milt remembers his work so fondly. I’ve learned how much joy there is in being an Ombudsman.”

Last week, I visited with these two wonderful men and Milt’s wife of 69 years, Bea. I wanted to spend some time in the presence of people who really seem to have gotten it right.  The day I visited was actually moving day for Milt and Bea. The Felsenfelds were moving to a much smaller long term care home that would be better suited for their current needs.  This meant though that Milt would be leaving Stan’s assigned home and be under the watchful eye of a new Ombudsman.

We chatted for awhile.  We smiled.  We laughed – a lot.  And then Milt asked me to go get his well worn black Ombudsman hat from the other room.  Amidst stacks of boxes and bags ready for the impending move, I found the hat still resting on a shelf in a place of honor. Milt proudly put the hat on and grinned broadly.  And then he removed it, and placed his hat on Stan’s head.  Milt said that in the new place he wouldn’t need his Ombudsman hat anymore.  Stan hesitated, but he understood.  We all understood.  The Ombudsman torch had now been passed.

Thank you, Stan and Milt for being the perfect reminder of what life is all about – compassion, caring, and love for everyone – especially for those who need us most.

Tricia Homrighausen
Development and Community Manager
Monday, 1 July 2013

Every Senior is an Artist. Every Senior is a Treasure!

With the guidance of art instructors through the Bowers Museum Treasures Project, the COA Socialization Department had the opportunity to give older and disabled adults an experience to create art in a relaxing, enjoyable environment. These art classes have provided participants the opportunity to develop, explore, and possibly even find a talent they did not realize they have.  This has also allowed them to meet new people and build friendships.

E. Medina

Treasures participant Efrain Medina creates his own masterpiece.

Here are a few quotes from some of the Treasures participants:

“Everything was just perfect.”

“I love this class, we need more. They are healing.”

“I like that people who don’t know how to draw come and do very nice paintings.”

Artwork from the watercolor painting class as well as other art classes we have had in the past will be on display at the Bowers Museum on July 7th from 11:00am-3:00pm as a part of their Target Free Sundays. We will also have an art show here at the Council on Aging on  July 17th from 1:30-3:00pm and feature some our clients’ works.

Every senior is an artist –every senior is a treasure!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

COA Volunteer Bob Hancock – Giving Back

Today, I’d like to highlight one of our HICAP Counselors, Bob Hancock.  Bob has been so helpful in developing our HICAP web site; updating the Reference Book (that we so desperately needed updated); site counseling at Laguna Woods and Mission Viejo Social Security office and coming into the call center (in fact, he is coming in today – this afternoon) – to help answer telephone calls of worried seniors.  Also during the Annual Enrollment, he was very involved and part of many teams.

Bob Hancock

Recently, I asked Bob to tell me a little of his story. He sent me a great ‘bio’ and gave me permission to share (with some arm twisting)!

Bob graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in 1964, in Electronic Engineering.  He worked for the State of California and Collins Radio as an engineer over the next 4 years.  He worked on projects throughout California, Tennessee, and British Columbia.  He went to Oregon State to earn a Master’s degree in 1968.  Next year he started teaching Electronics Technology at Orange Coast College.  He continued teaching electronics, engineering and math courses over the next 34 years.  Retirement came in 2003, although he still taught part-time until 2010.

He and Kathleen were married in 1969; they have 2 children – a son in Torrance, and a daughter in Philadelphia.  No grandchildren.

After retiring, he worked as a Tax Preparer for Jackson-Hewitt, and as a volunteer for AARP tax preparation.  Meanwhile, his mother was having trouble keeping up with her medical needs.  In 2003, he had to step-in and learn about Kaiser, Medicare, and eventually the doughnut hole.  In 2007 he called HICAP for a couple of questions about Medicare. Getting some good answers, he asked about volunteering for HICAP and was told to call Mary O.  He became a registered HICAP counselor in February 2008.

He finds the atmosphere at HICAP very positive and very different than past volunteer experiences.  He likes working with volunteers and staff who know how to solve difficult problems for the clients who are often overwhelmed by the whole medical system.  For 2 years, he was constantly asking questions of people who knew the answers.  He knows he was probably a ‘pest’, but the effort paid off.  He’s now comfortable answering most client questions and helping new counselors find their way.

I thank, Bob, for all his help!  He is really very special and I am grateful to be able to work with some of the best people in the world—HICAP Counselors!

If you’re interested in joining Bob and the rest of our wonderful HICAP volunteers, contact us at 714.560.0424 ext 225!

Mary Ozurovich

HICAP Coordinator of Volunteers