West Marin Senior Services – The Case for the Endowment Fund for the Future

For those of us who consider one of the 14 villages across the 325 square miles of West Marin our home, we know how special it is to live amidst the beauty of rolling farm hills, cool shaded forests, peaceful lagoons, and crashing waves. Whether we have chosen to live here in a second home, or have lived here many generations, most of us hope to live our remaining lives here.

Since 1976, over 3000 community members have used West Marin Senior Services to support parents, other aging family members, friends and neighbors. West Marin Senior Services (WMSS) is the area’s only community based non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all of us get to age in our homes and live with dignity for as long as possible. 

The key programs which ensure that we can all safely age in place are providing services that help us get a ride to a doctor’s appointment or help with navigating social security which is part of care management. We also need food to nourish us that is carefully prepared to meet our dietary needs as we age as well as being easy to chew or prepare. West Marin Senior Services is the only organization in West Marin that delivers nutritiously prepared food to seniors at home. 

And staying connected to others is critical and therefore needing the social and mental stimulation that friendly visiting, online workshops, lectures and other engaging activities can provide.

We are fortunate to provide this reliable safety net for those we love – our family members, our friends and neighbors and ourselves – should the time come. We find it comforting to know that there is a place like Stockstill House – a safe home-like environment in Pt. Reyes Station – where we can recuperate from surgery or spend our final days close to friends and family without having to drive over the hill. Stockstill House has been a home for over 137 seniors since it opened 21 years ago.

West Marin Senior Services is also the organization in West Marin that supervises student nurses from Dominican University who regularly check on the health of seniors.  It is a model program that exposes student nurses to the realities of rural healthcare and allows seniors more access to care. 

These services are provided without charge (with the exception of Stockstill House) and are critical to the well-being of our older adults who are isolated, don’t have transportation and live a long way from medical services, the pharmacy, and the grocery store. WMSS is a lifeline for many, especially the 50 or so who are homebound.

Almost 350 seniors are clients or participants in the various programs West Marin Senior Services provides. Based on 2010 census numbers, there are approximately 2700 seniors living in West Marin. While not all of them need these services, West Marin Senior Services is focused on being able to meet the growing need with programs that are affordable or free. 

The past couple of years have been particularly challenging for all of us. With fires and a pandemic that still loom, West Marin Senior Services has more than tripled its services such as home delivered meals, tele-nursing visits with 4th year student nurses, transportation to medical appointments, assistance with finances and housing, finding caregivers, providing online classes and visits with friendly volunteers, in addition to alerting firefighters and directing vaccines to homebound seniors. And through guidance from local health experts and the dedication of our staff, we are grateful to report that Stockstill House remains COVID-free.

The next generation of seniors is on our doorstep. Some of those who cared for their elderly parents and relied on WMSS are now needing care themselves.

The recent pandemic and fires of 2020 clearly confirms that our ability to serve is subject to unpredictable forces. Therefore, the WMSS Board of Directors recognized the need for a reliable source of income that can get the organization through any number of disasters and has established the West Marin Senior Services Endowment Fund for the Future.

We are seeking to raise a $2.3 million endowment to generate more than $100,000 annually for critical operations. Government grants and other funding covers only 25% of our program needs. Individual donors provide the rest. The WMSS Board of Directors is 100% committed and contributing to the current Endowment Drive – Fund for the Future.

The WMSS Board of Directors, working with The Marin Community Foundation, has created policies that stipulate that only a prudent amount of the gain generated by an endowment can be used, and that the principal would not be touched. Therefore, the WMSS FFF at goal would generate income to help cover expenses each year, and for the years when it is not needed, it would increase the value of the endowment. Over time, the endowment will be added to and will grow, and the increased value will help WMSS keep up with the increased costs and needs and stay a healthy, vital force for aging with dignity and safety in our community. 

Help us continue this critical and compassionate work. The endowment campaign will accept outright gifts of cash and stock, pledges over 5 years, and planned gifts. 

For assistance, please contact Executive Director, Skip Schwartz at (415) 663-8148 ext 109 or skip@wmss.org

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.