FANtastic Free Resources

Suzy Hopkins
By Suzy Hopkins June 15, 2009 12:17

Here’s a list of senior-focused programs and services that we consider fantastic. These are all free and yet so valuable: medical care, food, entertainment, even cheerful phone calls to isolated seniors. In many cases, these services are the work of dedicated community volunteers. If you know of other resources we might list in future issues, call the FAN office at 536-1755 or email us at

Vials and Files of Life

What’s inside these brightly colored plastic packets can help save your life – a list of your medical conditions, health history, medications, allergies and emergency contacts. Two agencies offer these:

  • Tuolumne County Ambulance Service, with support from the Sonora Area Foundation, provides the “Vial of Life.”  Magneted to your fridge, the yellow envelope (formerly a plastic vial) gives paramedics access to your medical information in an emergency, when every second counts. Available at three Sonora sites: the Senior Center, 540 Greenley Rd.; Sonora Blood Bank, 850 Sanguinetti Rd.; and ambulance headquarters, 18440 Striker Court, off Tuolumne Road. 533-5122.
  • Area 12 Agency on Aging has a similar “File of Life” available at their Sonora office, 19074 Standard Road. The red packets come in two sizes: a magnetized envelope to stick to your fridge and a business-card size to keep in your purse or car. 532-6272.

Help for Disabled

Seniors and individuals with disabilities of any kind can find help and information from the Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living, 67 Linoberg St., Sonora. The nonprofit organization’s staff links clients to a multitude of services, ranging from care providers and housing to benefit assistance. It also provides information, referral and funding for a wide range of assistive-technology equipment, from hearing aids to wheelchair ramps. 532-0963.

Senior Services Directory

Pick up this handy 24-page guide to local senior services at the sheriff’s Community Service Unit office in The Junction Shopping Center. Published by the nonprofit Senior Resource Service  (SRS), it includes contact information for everything from health care and housing to transportation and emergency services – “anything a senior might need,” says Judy Finley, SRS president. A complete version of the directory (61 pages) is available online at the Friends and Neighbors website,, under the home-page link titled “Resources.”

Smoke-Alarm Checks

Sonora Kiwanis Club volunteers will visit your home to inspect the smoke alarms, and then install new alarms or new batteries free to anyone 60 or older. For the hearing impaired, a special strobe-equipped alarm can be installed, also at no charge. 586-1180.

Health Van

Sonora Regional Medical Center’s “Project HOPE” van offers free checkups and care for minor medical problems from 9am-3:30pm each Monday and Friday (not including holidays) in the Sonora WalMart parking lot. The goal is to help those with high insurance deductibles or no health insurance, or those with a minor problem who can’t get in to see their regular doctor quickly, a hospital spokesman said. Scott Perez, a physician’s assistant who staffs the van, also is able to write prescriptions. The van is funded by proceeds from an annual summer golf tourney.

Phone Calls to Seniors

Two programs offer checks on seniors’ well-being:

  • Volunteers with the Call-A-Day Program place daily morning calls to seniors living alone. “We offer a cheery hello and see if they’re okay,” says coordinator Mary Neuman of Sonora. If there’s no answer, an alternative number is contacted. Call 533-2687 to sign up to receive calls, or to volunteer for an hour one day per month.
  • “SafeSenior” is a free service provided by Seniority Lifecare at Home, a Sonora-based company providing in-home care in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.  It provides automated phone calls to check on a senior’s well-being, or to remind about taking medications. 532-4500.

Food Aid

Seniors struggling with food costs can get a helping hand from the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency. ATCAA’s Food Bank distributes food from 10am-noon the third Tuesday of each month at the Senior Center, 540 Greenley Rd., Sonora. Free produce is offered on the fourth Friday of each month at the Food Bank, 10059 Victoria Way (next to the Humane Society). 984-3960.

Sweet Music

Guaranteed to liven up your senior gathering: The Country Classics, 532-7570, and The Leftovers Band, 586-7663. Both groups perform for free at a variety of senior events, thanks to the seasoned musicians who donate their time and musical talents.

Home Energy Program

This Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency program helps low-income residents in Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amador counties with utility bill payments. Its staff can also help with energy-saving home improvements, and can offer energy-saving ideas and budget counseling. 533-1397, ext. 232.

OakPlus Program

This Sonora Regional Medical Center program offers monthly wellness seminars led by health care experts, and local merchant discounts for program members. Available to those 65 and older. 536-5025.

© 2009, Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Suzy Hopkins
By Suzy Hopkins June 15, 2009 12:17
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