Older adults are at greater risk from the threats of both COVID and climate change, and so Senior Coastsiders is doing everything possible to keep area residents safe, prepared and aware. Through another year of trying to find our new normal, we have seized the opportunities that grew out of the pandemic by partnering with a number of different agencies including the County of San Mateo, the City of Half Moon Bay, Peninsula Clean Energy and PG&E. These partnerships allowed us to share valuable information with the senior community and community at large to keep them safe, save them money or make them more knowledgeable.

Through our partnership with the county and the city, Senior Coastsiders hosted weekly COVID testing through early spring. The center also hosted two vaccine clinics geared toward older adults for whom it was challenging to navigate the online appointment process or find transportation to other larger clinics.

Additionally, Senior Coastsiders has continuously distributed the most up-to-date information about COVID, its variants, testing and vaccine clinics throughout the year through partnerships with the San Mateo Office of Community Affairs and Thrive Alliance. When our center re-opened in July, we were able to have face-to-face conversations with seniors and assist them in finding vaccine clinics and scheduling their booster shots.

Throughout 2021, Senior Coastsiders also worked with PG&E and Peninsula Clean Energy to help the community prepare for the transition to a time-of-use plan. Ensuring that seniors on a fixed income understand when they should use appliances for the most efficient energy use saves them money and surprise bills. PCE and Senior Coastsiders also worked together to successfully donate over 150 portable backup batteries and 100 portable solar panels to seniors and others who rely on electric-powered medical devices. We continue to work with PCE to get the word out about numerous rebate programs including financial incentives for solar panels and batteries, used electric vehicles and electric heat pump water heaters.

Our organization placed increased focus on environmental education and awareness in 2021 allowing us to leverage many of our interconnected programs. Through our Evergreen Coastsiders programming, we provided presentations on carbon sequestration and soil health, climate change activism, resusables, electrification and the county’s local hazard mitigation plan updates to name a few. This programming also provided an opportunity for community members to speak directly to representatives at PCE, the city of Half Moon Bay, and the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability, and ask important questions.

We held a timely presentation with local Battalion Chief Dave Cosgrave about being ready for major emergencies on the coast by having both an evacuation plan and a sheltering-in-place plan as our neighbors in Lake Tahoe were experiencing brutal wildfires.

Through our partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability, we took the first steps in turning our center into a heat and wildfire resiliency hub by procuring medical-grade air purifiers, swamp coolers and air quality monitors. Additionally, we have multiple backup batteries with solar panel charging stations in case of power outages.

In early 2022, we will also install new solar shades on our windows to block heat transfer. This will ensure that the next time the Coastside faces challenges from smoke or extreme heat, Senior Coastsiders can serve as a refuge for seniors and other vulnerable community members.

We will continue to work closely with our city, state and community partners to bring valuable information to those who need it most in the coming year — and many years to come.

Hope Atmore is program manager for Senior Coastsiders.

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