One kind act from 38 years ago has grown into a fund enabling Valley seniors on a tight budget to pay off bills for emergencies that suddenly arise.
It all began in 1982 with the founding of the Wiesner Memorial Senior Fund, when the late Frances Wiesner of Livermore wondered what to do with some extra income she had.
Someone suggested that she could start a fund for seniors in which the principal would build high enough so that the interest income could fund small assistance checks for a growing number of seniors.
Pat Cohan, a volunteer who has acted as the chief financial officer for the fund since 2000, said that it has been managed conservatively, and has been very stable over the years.
The fund assets provide enough to pay bills in the $300 to $350 range, usually on a one-time-only basis. That way, the funds can be spread among more senior requests each year.
If a senior has a larger debt than $350, the Wiesner money can join funds from other non-profits to cover the bill total. Checks go to the business or service billing the senior, not to the seniors themselves. Seniors must be at least 60 to qualify for the funding.
Board members meet regularly, but solutions that need speedy resolution may be handled by one board member on the phone. That person will contact a case worker at the Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley. Mary McNamara and Jennifer Nelson serve as the case workers who work with seniors who qualify for Wiesner Fund aid. Their office is located in the Pleasanton Senior Center at a separate entrance in the building.
Some Livermore referrals come from the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District senior center. In Dublin, the Senior Center makes referrals to Senior Support.
Judy Boyle, a volunteer who works for the fund, said assistance has gone for such things as food, car repairs, dental bills, and move-in costs.
Commenting on his experience, Livermore resident Moe Farzan said the Wiesner fund paid for his car’s DMV registration. “I was very happy they helped me pay the registration. I can’t walk anymore, and they paid my bill.” Now Farzan’s caregiver drives him to his destinations.