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Orange County Focus

SANTA ANA : Postal Van Helps Ease Seniors' Lot

July 14, 1993|MARTIN MILLER

Margaret Rojas needed a book of stamps to mail invitations to her son's 25th wedding anniversary party. The Santa Ana resident was prepared for the five-block walk to the nearest post office.

But Tuesday morning, Rojas, 67, didn't have to go to the post office. It came to her.

As part of a new six-month trial program, a mobile postal van--a veritable post office on wheels--parked at the Santa Ana Senior Center and began handling the postal requests of grateful senior citizens.

"I'll use this more often," said Rojas, who lives next to the senior center. "If I need more stamps, I'll just come back next week."

The mobile post office, the only one its kind operating in Orange County, provides the same services as any postal facility, except for passport processing. The van will return to the Santa Ana Senior Center at 424 W. 3rd St. every Tuesday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Ching Tsun Chao, 65, of Santa Ana, who bought a stack of air mail envelopes, was also pleased the postal van will be at the senior center on a regular basis.

"I need these to write letters to Taiwan," she said. "I'm glad the van is here."

Postal Service officials chose the Santa Ana Senior Center because they wanted to improve service to segments of the population that have difficulty getting to a post office. Nearly 400 subsidized housing units for seniors and the disabled are next to senior center.

"What better place to help the community than a senior center?" said Santa Ana Postmaster Rosemarie Fernandez.

"I don't know how much you know about seniors," said senior center director Evelyn Becktell. "But the crosswalk sign on the way to the other post office changes before they can even get across the street. The van is going to be real convenient for them."

About three dozen people used the service on its opening day. Postal officials expect more customers as the word gets out.

"As time goes on and especially as we get closer to the Christmas holidays, they (senior citizens) will be able to mail those packages they are sending to grandchildren from our postal van," Fernandez said.

The post office tried a similar mobile van program about three years ago at the same site, but it failed. Postal officials said the service was sporadic, and they just weren't able to attract enough users. But with a firm six-month commitment, postal officials are confident their second try will be successful.

"I think they (senior citizens) will look forward to seeing us," said Nghia Vu, who works in the postal van. "It's going to be more than buying stamps and postage. It's going to be an event for the seniors."

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