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SOUTH GATE : Seniors Group Wants to Boost Meal Service

February 14, 1993|DUKE HELFAND

The nonprofit Oldtimers Foundation plans to double the 1,000-plus meals it prepares daily for Southeast area senior citizens, the group's director said.

More than 250 residents and officials attended a 15th anniversary celebration Feb. 4 at the Bell Community Center to honor the organization, its workers and volunteers.

The $40-a-seat dinner and silent auction raised an estimated $25,000 that will be used to expand the foundation's Long Beach Boulevard kitchen, project director George Cole said.

When the renovation is finished in about six months, the organization plans to double the number of meals it serves at community centers and homes in South Gate, Bell, Maywood, Cudahy, Lynwood, Huntington Park, Artesia and the Walnut Park and Florence-Graham areas, Cole said. Meal service also could be expanded to other communities, though none have been chosen, he said.

"It won't happen overnight but we want to be able to meet the demand that is growing every year," said Cole, a Bell city councilman. "We're at that point where something has to happen to continue and that basically means reorganizing the kitchen. We are partners in these communities and we want to show our support for them."

The renovation will cost $30,000 to $35,000, and the foundation must raise the balance, Cole said.

Meals are free to those who cannot afford the suggested $1.50 donation. The foundation also offers free transportation for as many as 400 seniors each day from South Gate, Huntington Park and Walnut Park who are unable to get to banks, doctors' offices and other places.

The organization relies on the federal government for 55% of its annual $1.25-million budget, which it supplements with municipal, county and state funds, and with money it raises privately. The South Gate-based organization is a branch of the 28-year-old Oldtimers Foundation in San Bernardino County.

State Sen. Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) and representatives for Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East Los Angeles), Supervisor Gloria Molina and each of the cities served by the organization presented Cole with proclamations recognizing the foundation. Ray Johnson, mayor pro tem of Bell, declared Feb. 4 "Oldtimers Day" in the city.

Maywood Mayor Rose Marie Busciglio thanked the foundation for "giving our older people dignity in their golden years."

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