Nancy Fisher | Sandpiper and Nancy Weare | founder of DMCC
|Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new van in 2001.
Photo DMCC archives.
As Del Mar Community Connections (DMCC) approaches its 15th year of providing resources to help our senior residents remain independent, and live in their own homes as long as possible, the Sandpiper asked its founder, Nancy Weare, for her thoughts.
SP: Next year will be the 15th anniversary of DMCC, and it’s hard to remember how we functioned without it. Has it evolved along the lines you expected or has it exceeded your expectations?
NW: In the Fall of 1999, a small group of residents gathered together to explore the idea of forming a senior support organization. I had just returned from Connecticut, where the Senior Center counselor had provided our family much needed comfort while my father was dying. Coming home I had been struck by the fact that Del Mar did not have an organization dedicated to serving the needs of its senior residents. Del Mar Community Connections has grown spectacularly from this small group and has far exceeded my expectations in the scope of services and activities we now provide for Del Mar seniors and community members with specific needs. These range from neighbor to neighbor home visits in times of crisis and needed transportation services to popular learning and socialization experiences. The tremendous support of the many community volunteers and the City, necessary ingredients for DMCC’s success, was not surprising. Del Mar residents are an exceptional lot… full of ideas, energy and compassion… so I figured it was a possible dream.
SP: DMCC recently moved to a new home at the Community Building and now offers too many services to fully describe here. Which programs did you start with, and are any closer to your heart than others?
NW: Transportation was our first focus. In 2000, we visited various service groups around San Diego. Time after time they stressed the importance of mobility to maintain the independence and health of the senior and special need population. In 2000-2001 we carried out a successful drive to collect funds for our first van, organized our first volunteer driving program and became incorporated as a 501(c) (3) not for profit California Corporation. We also focused early on health, educational and socialization activities, such as exercise, walking, bridge and writing groups, lawyer and Medicare assistance and various senior-targeted discussion groups. All the DMCC senior services fill a demonstrated need so they are important and valued. But I must say when a group gets together for DMCC events at the Community Building or other locations and share their joy at learning something new or sharing a favorite interest or story and you witness everyone’s pleasure it’s pretty fantastic.
SP: Running a non-profit is serious business. Did you have previous experience or did you learn on the job? Anything you’d do differently now that you know what’s involved?
NW: I was one of the founders of the San Dieguito River Valley Land Conservancy and of the Del Mar Farmers’ Market so before DMCC I had some experience with non-profit formation and operation. Also, carrying out a research program at UCSD is a constant reminder of the necessity of obtaining funding and fulfilling obligations to achieve your objectives. At the moment I can’t think of anything I’d do differently but there’s always room for improvement. From the beginning in 1999, DMCC has been the product of many people’s ideas and effort. Relying on these people was the best way to get the “job” done.
SP: We know you’re always looking for volunteers to serve in shifts as “Community Building Hosts,” and as drivers, but how else can residents contribute? Wish list?
NW: You’re correct...volunteers are the essential ingredient for DMCC’s present and future success. A continuing plentiful supply of dedicated volunteers tops the wish list. Except for our small 2-person staff and van driver every DMCC activity depends on volunteers. They suggest an activity or service, form a committee to execute it and do the work to make it a success. So we always need more to participate in this way. Residents can also help by participating in DMCC events and services, offering their expertise for existing services and ideas for new activities, joining the Board of Directors, as well as by supporting DMCC fundraising efforts. Additionally, grant writing is a chore happily shared.
SP: Where do you see DMCC going in the next 15 years?
NW: I hope we continue on the path we follow now. The City of Del Mar now has the highest percentage (21%; 2010 census) of seniors over 65 of all the cities in San Diego County and SANDAG forecasts the percentage to increase to 33% in another 13 years. Hopefully, we will continue to grow our funding and volunteer list. This will be necessary to meet the needs of this growing senior population and to maintain the continued health of the organization. It would be wonderful if we continue to have a home in the City like the new community building and fantastic if we find a way to locate our own DMCC Senior Center in the City of Del Mar.
SP: We’re guessing that your dad would be very proud of what you created in response to his receiving such loving care in his final days. Do you ever have time to reflect on this and give yourself a little credit for a job well done? Never mind…we know you won’t answer that. So, on behalf of the residents of Del Mar, we give you a huge pat on the back - and we’re looking forward to DMCC’s 15th anniversary celebration!
For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Heather Glenn
at (858) 792-7565 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next month the Sandpiper will interview Ann Silber, another DMCC pioneer.