In praise of Vintage House
Here's a shock: Sonoma is aging. It's true. And if you're reading this, especially if you're reading this in print, the odds are good you're part of the demographic depth charge that has begun to explode across America, quite prominently and visibly including Sonoma.
According to one aging projection, by 2015 the median age in our fair town will be 50.3 years.
And while, to some of us, 50 feels young, there is no denying the impact, and the increasing needs, of our ever-older population. Which brings us to Older Americans Month - which May is - and the singular agency most directly responding to needs of Boomers and beyond - Vintage House.
On the roster of major, nonprofit, service agencies in Sonoma, Vintage House may have the lowest profile, the least sexy public image, in part because many of us are in denial about aging, we'd rather pretend it isn't there.
So older people - does anyone really like the term "senior" - despite their prominent numbers, are somehow less visible to us.
Which is why Vintage House casts a long shadow, serving some 2,000 people a year with only six fulltime staff, and a small army of 235 active volunteers who, between them, annually contribute more than 6,500 donated hours.
To mark Older Americans Month and generate much-needed support, Vintage House has crammed May with a slate of activities that should appeal to people of any age. Beginning on Thursday, May 19, the Vintage House Singers will present their annual spring concert, using the theme "Americana" for two free performances (Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 1:30.) The public is invited and refreshments will be served.
Then, on Friday, May 27, the Murphy's 15th Annual Bottomfeeders' Open Golf Tournament, with an evening dinner party, will benefit Vintage House with all proceeds (go to vintagehouse.org for details).
Then the Julian Pollack Trio will present a jazz concert on Sunday, May 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. You can register by phone or online.
A few other important Vintage House metrics: During a typical week, Vintage House provides 50 activities for 800 people, ranging from an Alzheimer's support group to zumba classes. The variety of services provided to older Sonomans is staggering. That includes a free blood pressure clinic, free brown bag food program, caregiver support and education, a grief support group, a health insurance counseling and advocacy program, hearing assessment, income tax preparation, information and referral services, legal consultations on wills and trusts, a peripheral neuropathy support group and a LIMO (Local Independent Mobility Options) program offering free local rides for non-driving seniors.
Then there's anther universe of activities with minimal fees, including bridge lessons and games, chi gong, chorale group, computer tutoring, foreign language classes, hula, line dance, tai chi, watercolor club, yoga, and workshops in balance, posture, depression and improving cognitive functioning.
Vintage House membership is optional and open to anyone, starting at $35 a person. We can't think of a better Older Americans Month investment.