Elder abuse and a breach of public trust at local senior center
The city of Morgan Hill and the Young Men's Christian Association has decided to use their special relationship with our city's elderly to extract money. This endeavor targets the elderly who participate in the Senior Nutrition Program.
CRC personnel are assigned to persuade elderly participants to change their wills. The elderly are being told that if they do not change their wills the senior center will be closed and the nutrition program will be stopped. The use of fear is specifically targeted at a very vulnerable group.
I cannot believe that the YMCA, which reported $62 million in income in 2010, and our city government would compromise their public trust. Using a special relationship of trust, to persuade elderly people to give away their money, is the very essence of elder abuse.
The outrageous wording, to improperly influence our older citizens, is stated in the Centennial Recreation Senior Center's monthly publication (June 2011). As follows:
n "Have you thought about leaving your legacy with the Centennial Recreation Senior Center?"
n "There are many ways that you can help to assure the longevity of our programs and services at the Senior Center."
n "Enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to the to the longterm financial stability of the Senior Center by naming the Senior Center in your will. It's the gift that keeps of giving."
n "Honor or memorialize someone important to you. Give a gift to commemorate a birthday, and anniversary, as a thank you or for a special occasion. Knowing that you have made a contribution in someone's name that will help many others is most satisfying gift of all."
The publication also mentions that legal council is available and the mayor is available June 17. I assume that the city manager, and others in authority, approved this outrageous endeavor.
It is my understanding that we have laws specifically designed to prevent this kind of activity.
Our city pays the YMCA just over a million dollars per year, and Santa Clara County pays the YMCA for the lunch program.
Our city remodeled the Friendly Inn building then assigned it rent-free to the Mount Madonna branch of the YMCA.
The Senior YMCA director, in this building, told me that his responsibility was not the administration of the CRC activities. He said his responsibility was to promote memberships. The Morgan Hill Redevelopment Agency has spent, I understand, more than $30 million to promote memberships at the CRC.
Members and taxpayers are not being asked to change their wills to support the city budget.
We must not allow our city manager and contract employees to abuse a very precious trust. If you took your parents to the Senior Center would you be comfortable knowing that YMCA/CRC employees were counseling them to change their wills?
Staten M. Johnston, Morgan Hill
Letter was 'grossly inaccurate and extremely offensive'
When it comes to pulling the load of providing an aging-friendly community for the growing number of seniors in our society Mr. Johnston is, once again, pushing on his rope, rather than pulling and helping.
The Centennial Recreation Senior Center nutrition program is funded by the county and the YMCA. The nutrition program has nothing to do with the endowment. Many seniors find the Centennial Recreation Senior Center a place for much more than nutrition. They find it a place where they can socialize and not be alone all day long. Some of these (and other) seniors have no children (or pets) to have as beneficiaries.
These seniors have a right to be made aware that the Centennial Recreation Senior Center now has an endowment fund (the Nakano Trust) as part of the Morgan Hill Community Foundation. The principle of this endowment stays intact and the earnings are granted annually to the Centennial Recreation Senior Center to help pay for its operation and make up for the funds no longer available from the city of Morgan Hill. The seniors deserve to have the knowledge that this endowment exists and is an option they have to leave part of their estate to benefit seniors today and in the future.
At the risk of becoming targets of Mr. Johnston's hatred of those trying to help our seniors, I must mention the advisory committee of the Friends of the Morgan Hill Senior Center. This is a group of volunteers whose goal is to raise funds through events and activities. The Friends of the Morgan Hill Senior Center is a separate fund at the Morgan Hill Community Foundation formed in March of this year. This fund is used to collect proceeds from the advisory committee's events and activities. These proceeds are granted to the Centennial Recreation Senior Center to also help provide operating funds which are no longer available from the city of Morgan Hill.
I would encourage readers of this letter to visit the website of Friends of the Morgan Hill Senior Center at www.fmhsc.org and see what we are doing to help our seniors by raising funds to financially support the Centennial Recreation Senior Center. Perhaps some readers would even like to volunteer to work with us, or make a donation by becoming and Associate or Subscriber. Sadly, I don't believe Mr. Johnston would find this to be his cup of tea.
As an active volunteer who has deep knowledge of the character and mindset of the people who work every day to help our seniors, especially the Executive Director of the Mt. Madonna Branch of the YMCA and the Director of Programs and Services for the Centennial Recreation Senior Center, I would like to say this about Mr. Johnston's remarks concerning them: I find his attempts to impugn their integrity and suggest they have any other goal in mind except to help our seniors both grossly inaccurate and extremely offensive.
Finally, to Mr. Johnston, I say ... try pulling on the rope. It feels really good!
John Tarvin, Morgan Hill
In his June 14 letter, Staten Johnston makes several baseless statements concerning the YMCA and the Centennial Recreation Senior Center staff. Under most circumstances, we would not spend the time responding to such out-of-touch statements, but his letter makes an outrageous accusation of elder abuse directed at the Senior Center, and we cannot let that stand. These accusations have not come from observations of any incident or even participation at the center, because Johnston does not utilize the center. They are fabrications developed by mixing a few facts with a lot of fiction and weaving together information from several sources that have no relation to each other. We would like to provide readers with the true facts.
It is customary for nonprofit organizations to ask for donations and bequests. Our community is fortunate that the Nakano family provided a means to assist older adults and the essential programs and services they need through the establishment of the Nakano Trust Endowment, which is overseen by the Morgan Hill Community Foundation. The Centennial Recreation Senior Center creates community awareness regarding this endowment. The outrageous statements that Mr. Johnston alleged to be "elder abuse" were a small advertisement in the center's newsletter designed to make the community aware of the endowment. The Senior Center staff does not coerce or manipulate seniors to contribute to the endowment or any other means of fundraising, and they have never done so.
Regarding Johnston's innuendo about legal services available at the center, they are provided by Senior Adult Legal Assistance, a nonprofit organization not related to the Y or tied to the Senior Center. Senior Center staff are not privy to the discussions. Those services are specific to the diverse needs of seniors and are never coordinated as a means to influence any estate planning decisions. Those services are a means to provide free legal support, as well as a voice for seniors.
On the subject of elder abuse, Senior Center staff are mandated reporters of abuse. Elder abuse is a felony, and to suggest that the Senior Center or the Y played a role in that is not only baseless, but offensive.
The doors of the Senior Center are open for anyone who wants to see the wonderful things that happen here. Please come by and judge for yourself whether the center is living up to its mission to support the community's seniors. We encourage Mr. Johnston to take advantage of this offer.
Susan Fent, Director of Senior Programs and Services, Centennial Recreation Senior Center
Morgan Hill Times reported this information. If Mr. Johnston is falsely accusing this organization, why the CRC isn't taking legal action? Who investigates these allegations? Are the CRC actions legal?