Media Archive

Social Security Benefits Increase with Cost of Living

For more than 66 million Americans, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are increasing 2% in 2018, considered the highest increase in six years. Social Security Administration (SSA), an independent agency of the federal government, administers both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These programs are essential to vulnerable populations including low-income seniors and disabled individuals.

In Santa Clara County, the number of older adults aged 65+ living at, near, or below poverty level has increased over the past 15 years as indicated in the Sourcewise Area Plan on Aging 2016–2020. The 2014 American Community Survey indicated that approximately 8% of all older adults in SCC are living below poverty. More staggering is the fact that nearly half (49%) of SCC seniors age 65 and older are living at or below the means necessary to live adequately, according to the 2011 Elder Economic Security Standard Index.

Annually, SSA announces a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which is an inflation-adjusted “raise” provided to Social Security beneficiaries. When a COLA is announced, an increase in the amount of Social Security and SSI benefits are distributed to recipients.

Federal benefits rise when the cost of living increases, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). The CPI-W rises when prices increase which increases cost of living. Social Security is arguably one of the most important social programs for beneficiaries; many of whom depend on these monthly benefits.

What does a 2% COLA mean for Social Security beneficiaries? First Republic explains that average retirees can expect an increase of around $27 per month (about $329 per year), helping to sustain the value of Social Security benefits.

Find information about the 2018 COLA at

Homebound seniors receive handwritten holiday cards from local middle school

San Jose, December 25, 2017: Local middle school students at College Connection Academy created 1,900 handmade holiday cards for seniors receiving Meals on Wheels in Santa Clara County. Holiday cards offering cheerful greetings were included in special November and December holiday meal deliveries for homebound seniors.

“You’re beautiful, You’re one of a kind,” wrote a student in their holiday card.

College Connection Academy students have provided handmade greeting cards to Meals on Wheels participants since 2015, reminding us all that a small gesture can make a big difference.

For homebound seniors who have lost loved ones, or do not have relatives in the area, the holiday season can be lonely. Meals on Wheels provides wellness checks during meal deliveries and offers special meals to commemorate the holidays.

“Kids make the most wonderful cards…It’s a very special gift, and I know that the seniors are touched,” said Mary Orozco, who lead the effort on behalf of Sourcewise. Mary appreciates the partnership with College Connection Academy.

Sourcewise Meals on Wheels administered 674,697 meals in fiscal year 2016-2017 and offers the meals at no mandated cost to eligible seniors other than a suggested contribution of $1.80 per day. No one is denied meals due to inability to pay the suggested contribution.

If you are interested in learning more about Meals on Wheels, call (408) 350-3200, Option 4 or visit

To support this program with a donation of any size visit All donations are gratefully accepted.


Contact Info:
Aneliza Del Pinal
Director, Public Relations
(408) 557-4701

We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of Sourcewise content. Please credit us with the following information: Used with the permission of

Service Provides Quality of Life Line

Sourcewise has been a blessing for South County seniors in Morgan Hill and Gilroy

Published in The Mercury News Sunday, December 10, 2017

By Elliott Almond

Autumn’s slanting light bathes the South County hillsides in a golden glow to create a sense of tranquility at arm’s length from the bustle of Silicon Valley.

The pastoral image has drawn folks to Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy as the Bay Area’s population exploded over the past two decades. But the open spaces also can be isolating for the elderly as they begrudgingly hand over their car keys and the California tradition of independence.

“When they’re in a rural area, they become more vulnerable,” said Aneliza Del Pinal, a planner for Sourcewise, a Santa Clara County organization dedicated to improving seniors’ lives.

Driver Emily Escalante, helps Mavis Roe, 85, out of the Sourcewise van as she and Tom Bambino, 93, make their way to the Morgan Hill Senior Center.

In the past year, Sourcewise has become a lifeline for almost 50 seniors by providing free transportation Monday through Friday to Morgan Hill and Gilroy senior centers. With 11,500 area residents at least 65 years old, the San Jose-based group is trying to address a growing need that could easily be overlooked in the less populated basement of the county.

“They saved my life, really,” client Tom Bambino said of giving him mobility.

Bambino, 93, was one of four senior passengers during a recent morning ride-along in a lime green van called “Speedy Shuttle.” Good-natured driver Emily Escalante collected each commuter at their home to take them to the Morgan Hill Senior Center.

The shuttle has become part of the daily routine for the men and women who enjoy getting out of the house to spend part of the day mingling with others.

Mavis Roe, 85, left, and Larry Garner, 62, right, chat while being driven to the Morgan Hill Senior Center

“I’m going to eat, to gossip, to play games and do puzzles,” said Larry Garner, Escalante’s first pick up on this day.

Sourcewise currently has a van and a seven-seat passenger bus to ferry the elderly to the two senior centers in the morning and home in the afternoon.

The service launched in April has a waiting list of 18 seniors who want to take the shuttles. Ten more candidates are being evaluated to see if they qualify.

The need is amplified in sprawling communities lacking in city-like public transportation networks. Caltrain, for example, services South County only in the morning and evening. The Valley Transportation Authority’s light rail doesn’t extend that far south. Sourcewise executives found some people relied on taxis or long bus trips to get to the senior centers.

Wish Book readers can support the program with donations that help to pay for vehicle maintenance, drivers’ salaries and increasing the service with additional vehicles.

Transportation Specialist Emily Escalante heads out to pick-up a client in a Sourcewise van.

In a disposable society where the aging often find themselves disconnected, the seemingly simple task of transportation has potential long-term benefits.  A correlation between health and loneliness gained attention this year after Brigham Young University researchers found that social isolation increased the risk of premature death by about 30 percent. In another study, scientists reported that feeling lonely is as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The shuttle service offsets the sense of desolation in a community where bedroom housing tracts butt against farmland.

The socializing begins in the van for the four seniors who are Escalante’s regulars. The driver crisscrosses the southern edge of Coyote Valley from a mobile home park to a housing tract to Bambino’s ranch-style home along Morgan Hill’s Wine Trail.

Using a cane, Bambino ambles to the van with hearty hellos for everyone. He wears a U.S. Army veterans cap and carts along his acerbic New York humor.

Bambino owns a 2007 Cadillac but keeps his trips to the pharmacy and grocery store to a minimum.

“I try to steer clear of going out at night, in the rain and heavy traffic,” he said. “I’m not all there anymore.”

Bambino, who lives with his brother and sister-in-law, used to attend Elks Club events when he was more mobile.  The van service allows him to remain socially engaged at the seniors center, which offers a variety of activities at Centennial Recreation Center across from the city’s skate park.

Carmine Bambino appreciates the transport service because he is a full-time caregiver to his ailing wife and doesn’t have time to take his younger brother across town.

Sourcewise officials hope they can expand the program to help relieve overstressed caregivers even more. They’d like to offer transportation to medical appointments and shopping, said Rosie Jimenez, Sourcewise’s director of South County services.

Tom Bambino, 92, has his seatbelt fastened before heading to the Morgan Hill Senior Center.

The group also is investigating the possibility of a route extension to Santa Teresa light rail for seniors who use services located in the north county.

But for now, the main draw is the connectivity to the world outside of the home for Mary El Masry, 86, who never drove. Her husband, who died two years ago, did all the chauffeuring.

Living alone in Morgan Hill, El Masry was “feeling sorry for myself,” while stranded at her house.

Then she found Sourcewise.

“I’m so thrilled this service is offered because it really is a lifeline for her,” El Masry’s daughter Lorna said.

During the first visit to the senior center, El Masry breathed in the landscape and thought,  “Oh, no, I’m old but I don’t feel that old.”

Then she met other patrons and regained her sense of vibrancy. The Englishwoman stays in contact with friends and family in the United Kingdom by Skype. But too often their tales of woe bring her down.

Then she boards “Speedy Shuttle” with its neon colors and catches up with fellow passengers who enjoy the outings.

“I come here and it’s so bright,” El Marsy said of the center.

Escalante, the driver, often hears such spirited comments when making her rounds.

It never fails to bring a smile to her face.

Sourcewise's colorful van seats seven. The organization hopes to add vehicles and drivers to expand the popular service.

View The Mercury news article here.

Wish Book donations help create a community of givers

Published in The Mercury News December 4, 2017 at 1:26 pm

By Sal Pizarro

If you’ve donated to the Wish Book, the Mercury News’ holiday giving campaign, you’re already a vital part of an effort that’s helping to make our valley a better place to live. You might think that in a region known for its wealth, your donation might not make much of a dent.

But I am here to tell you that it does. You’re making a huge difference, especially where it really counts.

Last week, Sobrato Family Foundation CEO Rick Williams and Packard Foundation CEO Carol Larson talked to the San Jose Rotary Club about “The Giving Code,” the landmark report about Silicon Valley philanthropy that the Packard Foundation released last year. There have been many such discussions over the past year, with one resounding take away: Some 90 percent of Silicon Valley’s philanthropic dollars leave the region.

It’s a stunning statistic. Currently, there are more than 76,000 millionaires and billionaires living in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, according to the report. And, despite the region’s storied wealth and and overall increase in giving, many of those dollars are used to champion humanitarian causes around the globe or to support faraway places and institutions that are important to the valley’s success stories.

That’s not a bad thing in itself. But, as Larson pointed out, that wasn’t David Packard‘s philosophy and it’s not John A. Sobrato‘s, either. She summed up their viewpoint like this: “If you live here, you give here. If you work here, you give here.”

And that’s what Wish Book readers have been doing, donating more than $9 million since the program started in 1983. This year, in less than two weeks since the Wish Book campaign launched on Thanksgiving morning, readers have donated nearly $70,000 to make some of the wishes our reporters have written about turn into realities.

But there’s still a long way to go, and many more stories to share.

In the coming days and weeks through the end of the year, we’ll present more stories about our friends and neighbors who need help and the agencies that are working to support them. You’ll read about Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley’s efforts to repair more than four dozen homes at the South Bay Mobile Home Park that were damaged by February’s devastating Coyote Creek flood. We’ll tell you about Sourcewise, a San Jose-based group that has become a lifeline for seniors in the South County area by providing free transportation to senior centers in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. And you’ll discover how My New Red Shoes, a non-profit in Redwood City, is helping improve the lives and self-esteem of low-income families with new clothes, something many of us take for granted.

You can read more of these stories at, where you can also make a tax-deductible donation and make a wish come true.

There are certainly people and foundations in Silicon Valley that could put us over our goal in an instant — and, hey, we’d welcome them to do so. But, in reflecting on the lessons of “The Giving Code,” there’s a value in creating an entire community of givers. We live here, we work here, we should give here, too.

Everybody can make a difference, and, together, that difference can be huge.

View the original Mercury News article here.

Sourcewise Transit Service Keeps South County Seniors Connected

Older adults who live alone, away from family, or in rural parts of Santa Clara County, may struggle with transportation challenges leading to isolation and its detrimental health effects. The solution is the Sourcewise Transit Service— a FREE transportation option for those who need it most.

The Sourcewise Transit Service provides door-to-door rides for older adults who have difficulty with ambulation, are isolated, andwho do not have other available transportation options. The Sourcewise Transit Service enhances transportation access for 11,574 South County residents who are aged 65 and older, and in need of connections to Senior Centers in Morgan Hill and Gilroy.

“When seniors give up driving, it impacts their mobility and affects their social connectedness. South County is a close-knit community, and we are proud to be offering a service that keeps individuals connected,” explains Rosie Jimenez, Director of Sourcewise South County Services. Rosie oversees all aspects of the Transit Service.

Since the program launch in April, the Sourcewise Transit Service has provided 2,433 one way rides and has doubled its operations to serve the growing demand as of October 31.

This holiday season, Sourcewise is partnering with the Mercury Wishbook whose mission is to highlight the needs of our community and to encourage a spirit of civic philanthropy to meet those needs by supporting this program. Learn about the service and those who use it on the Sourcewise page: Wishbook 2017.

“It’s made a difference in my life. It’s perfect and helpful to me,” shares Mary Elmsry, a Sourcewise Transit Service rider.

Sourcewise aims to raise $20,000 to offset costs of maintaining the vehicles: oil changes, fuel, and major wear replacement.

Support the Sourcewise Transit Service wish for 2017 with a contribution of any size by logging in to or send a check to: San Jose Mercury News Wish Book Fund, 4 N. 2nd Street, Suite 800, San Jose, CA 95113.

What you need to know to be prepared for 2017 Annual Enrollment Period

San Jose, October 15, 2017: Open Enrollment for Medicare begins today. This year, Medicare beneficiaries should expect to see shifts in Medicare part B premium brackets, increased coverage for diabetes prevention, and a slight drop in the average monthly premiums to Part D among others, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

To educate Santa Clara County residents on these changes and to help individuals understand their options, the Sourcewise Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program will be presenting “Medicare Plan Changes and Updates 2018” at eight locations in Santa Clara County. Access accurate, unbiased information from a state-certified counselor. 

“Medicare can be complicated and the cost of benefits changes from year to year. It is important that individuals have a clear picture of updates and changes during this enrollment period because it can affect their health coverage options and costs throughout the year,” said Connie Corrales, Director of the Sourcewise Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program for the past 9 years. 

During the open enrollment period, the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program of Sourcewise reminds Medicare recipients to be vigilant of fraud and identity theft. Individuals should never share Medicare card information with unsolicited callers. 
Important dates for 2017 enrollment:

October 15, 2017: Open Enrollment begins
December 7, 2017: Last day to enroll in or change plans 
January 1, 2018: Changes to your plan take effect

The Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program of Sourcewise does not sell, endorse, nor represent any insurance company. Sourcewise is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has over 40 years of experience serving the residents of Santa Clara County. For more information, please contact Angelina Vallejos (408) 350-3200, option 2;

Contact Info: Aneliza Del Pinal
Director, Public Relations
(408) 557-4701

We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of Sourcewise content. Please credit us with the following information: Used with the permission of

Sourcewise announces award recipients of National Employ Older Workers Week

San Jose, October 5, 2017: Sourcewise presented six awards during its annual National Employ Older Workers Week luncheon, recognizing the value of ta Clara County’s mature workforce. The National Employ Older Workers Week is observed the last week of September and is a nationwide effort to highlight contributions made by the 55 and older workforce—projected to make up 25% of the civilian labor force in the next three years; increasing to 35% by 2022.

“Sourcewise celebrates the generational diversity, experience, and skill seniors possess. As older workers are opting to stay active or re-enter the workforce, Santa Clara County employers have the opportunity to rely on older workers to fill talent gaps,” explains Henri Villalovoz, Director of Senior Employment Services of Sourcewise.

To expand economic opportunities for older workers in Santa Clara County, Sourcewise provides Senior Employment Services; one of the nation’s first programs to help low-income, unemployed individuals aged 55+ to find employment through personalized career counseling andon-the job training, with the ultimate goal to transition to unsubsidized employment.

For the past 18 years Villalovoz, has developed one of the most successful programs in California, which he attributes to the strong, mutually-beneficial collaborations with community-based organizations and local employers.

“I want to thank Sourcewise for allowing us to be a host [training] agency throughout the years; we’ve had nine people come to us from Sourcewise. We, Heart of the Valley, a very small non-profit of volunteers, would not be here today without this program. [Senior Employment Services] provided employees that we could not afford, and we’ve been able to share [skills] with them to help them get employed,” said Glenda Cresap, Executive Director of Heart of the Valley.

Sourcewise determined the following individuals exemplified dedication, commitment, and excellence to the elder workforce in Santa Clara County. This year’s honorees include:

Employee Of The Year

Cindy Cooper, Senior Employment Services participant and now Driver for Bateman Community Living

Supervisor Award

Maria Lucerno, Program Manager of Employment Development Department

Special Award

Glenda Cresap, Executive Director of Heart of The Valley for Seniors

Host Training Agency of The Year Award

Sheri Burns, Executive Director of Silicon Valley Independent Living Center

Employer Of The Year Award

Kelly Collins, Business Office Manager of Bateman Community Living Center

Lou Ann Mowry, President & CEO of all Seasons Homecare Company

To learn more about Sourcewise Senior Employment Services please call (408) 350-3200, option 5.


Contact Info: Aneliza Del Pinal
Director, Public Relations
(408) 557-4701

We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of Sourcewise content. Please credit us with the following information: Used with the permission of

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Opens October 15

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) occurs from October 15–December 7, 2017. During this period, existing Medicare beneficiaries (already enrolled in Part A, Part B or both) may enroll in, switch, or drop a Medicare Part C or Part D plan. Medicare Advantage Part C members may possibly switch to a Medigap plan without underwriting.

Sourcewise provides personalized, unbiased guidance through the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP). HICAP counselors complete rigorous, ongoing training and are registered with the California Department of Aging.

The Sourcewise 2017 schedule of events is available at: Learn to make informed choices for yourself or your loved one by attending a presentation or resource fair.

You may also have prescriptions reviewed on October 22, by University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Services students (under supervision).

From January 1–February 14, 2018, the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) offers an opportunity to disenroll and revert to Original Medicare. Beneficiaries must ensure that a payment method for out-of-pocket costs is in place—such as a Medigap or Retiree plan—before using the MADP.

For those who missed enrolling in Medicare Part B or Premium Part A during an Initial Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period (after work or work coverage ended), a General Enrollment Period exists from January 1– March 31, 2018. Coverage starts July 2018.

Recipients with an income at the federal poverty level may find help for Medicare costs by enrolling in the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program, which provides payment for the Part A premium, co-pays, and deductibles. Obtain an application for Conditional Part A at your local Social Security office.

Free health insurance counseling is available. Contact the Sourcewise Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program: (408) 350-3200, option 2.

Sara Saeedi, Leading Seniors to Employment Services

A reorganization at Bank of America in 2008 left Sara Saeedi, Senior Vice President at Banking Center Operations—and many of her colleagues—out of work.

For Sara, leaving Bank of America was advantageous. She suddenly had more time to spend with her two daughters. Sara cherished her time with family; especially caring for her young grandchildren.

But, she soon decided she was too energetic and young to stay at home.

As she considered her options for employment an advertisement caught her eye, prompting Sara called Sourcewise to inquire about Senior Employment Services.

Sara was selected to participate in the program in 2014 as an Intake Representative. Now, she is the Lead Intake Representative, sharing her organizational skills and knowledge with colleagues while managing daily activities for Senior Employment Services.

Sara finds her work very rewarding. She states, “Many seniors come into our office stripped of their confidence. I feel privileged to assist these individuals and to help restore a sense of hope for them. I cherish the power and talent of our seniors.”

Sara meets candidates; conducts interviews; and administers testing for seniors with a variety of skill sets and interests. She also efficiently handles office tasks to keep the program running smoothly.

Henri Villalovoz, Director of Senior Employment Services for Sourcewise, states, “Sara has been a valuable asset to the success of the Senior Community Services Employment Program. She has helped so many seniors regain their splendor and live a more enlightened life given that they are again employed!”

Learn more about Senior Employment Services. Call (408) 350-3200, option 5

Screening and Early Detection are Key in the Battle Against Breast Cancer

Between 1989 and 2014, breast cancer deaths decreased 38% due to improvements in early detection and effective treatment. More than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors live in the United States, with worldwide numbers above 6 million.

Still, one in eight women in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Worldwide, breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual national health campaign organized by major charities to increase awareness, raise funds for research into cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of breast cancer. Visit for information regarding education; support services; and personal experiences related to breast cancer.

Screening tests are used to find breast cancer before any warning signs or symptoms exist. For those diagnosed with breast cancer, early detection is the ultimate goal; increasing both treatment options available and survival rate.

Susan G. Komen Foundation emphasizes the importance of early detection through regular breast exams and mammography. Learn more about clinical breast exams, mammography, and breast MRI’s on the website: Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to increase awareness of the importance of these regular screenings.

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you and your family have support available in the community. Services include: financial assistance; transportation; patient advocacy; assistance with prescriptions; and support groups. Cancer CAREpoint provides no-cost caregiver support groups, yoga classes, meditation, and nutrition information (among other services) for those living with cancer and their families. Visit:

Contact a Sourcewise Community Resource Specialist to learn about community resources: (408) 350-3200, option 1.