Involved Seniors Help Others

If you’re a San Diego County older adult and you’re looking for a good time here is a suggestion for you: join the county’s Aging and Independence Services (AIS) Advisory Council where you can advise the county on services provided for older adults and disabled people.

“It’s really been a fulfilling thing,” said Jack Duff, the current president of the group. “In retirement you need things to do and you need a little bit of a challenge.”

The council acts as a liaison for AIS in the community, basically acting as a set of eyes and ears on issues affecting seniors and disabled adults and their needs. They are especially in need of Asian, Hispanic and Native American seniors.

“Most of the feedback comes through our own information centers,” said Bob Prath, a former two-time president of the council. “We go through feedback from the public and we seek our own grassroots advice.

“Most of us are involved in our local senior or nutrition centers in our communities.”

 “Our AIS Advisory Council members don’t just advise; these dedicated volunteers actively participate on our committees, and with our events and meetings,” said Pam Smith, AIS Director. “The individuals on this board are active in the community in other ways, as well, and provide tremendous perspective on what’s working and what’s needed.

“We count on their inspiration and wisdom.”

And members of the council do indeed bring a lot of wisdom to the table, as well as experience and an eagerness to serve and make a difference. The oldest current member of the council is 93.

There are 30 representatives on the council and each San Diego County Board of Supervisors member appoints two positions. The rest are selected to serve after they file an application with the county. In accordance with the Older Americans Act, the council needs to be representative of the community based on geography, income and diversity.

The time commitment is relatively small. Members meet once a month (the second Monday of the month) at the AIS offices in Kearny Mesa. Meetings start at noon and last about two hours.

“The time commitment is only a couple of hours each month,” said Prath.

Members can put in additional hours serving on the executive committee or volunteer work groups. Those groups work on issues such as housing, transportation, nutrition, events such as the Aging Summit and services like the Adult Disability Resource Center call center.

If you are interested in serving on the council, you can fill out an application online

“They are going to have a great satisfaction in getting involved, finding out what their community needs are and bringing those forward,” said Prath. “It’s very rewarding.

“It’s educational and it makes you a much better senior.”

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact