Technology and Caring Work Hand-in-Hand

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Senior Services for South Sound
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To celebrate life with seniors and their families and supporting them so that they can maintain their independence in the community.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

My name is Dawn, and I am the Development Director for Senior Services for South Sound located in Olympia Washington. It is work that I am incredibly passionate about and I and my colleagues put in very long hours to make certain that we have what we need to care for those who need us. I thought about how I could explain what Microsoft Products do for us and our clients’ lives. I thought about writing this request for funds in the usual impersonal way of throwing out data, catch phrases and grant writing hocus-pocus, but then I decided that just telling you our story would speak for itself. There is no real way to quantify the impact of feeding and caring for another human being in need. We can show numbers and data but these only tell a part of the story of how lives become better when people help people. Technology is a tool. It is a useful tool in caring for people. Using it is not the “warm fuzzy” that person-to-person contact is. However our donated Microsoft technology makes it possible for us to do the essential tracking, connecting and quantifying of our work so that our people can get on with the important work of caring for others. Our Microsoft products provide Seniors Services for South Sound with the infrastructure that we need to do our work. We are growing so quickly that the old fashioned paper and pencil methods can no longer keep up with the huge amount of data we need to track. Senior Services must continue to be a stable organization with a strong foundation into the future. Our clients’ lives depend on it. The demand for our services continue to increase as the senior population rises. The populations 65 and over is predicted to increase 194% in Thurston County by 2015, just six short years away. We have been strategically using Microsoft products such as Excel and Access to help us keep up with client needs. We use Microsoft software to help us do our jobs every moment of every day. These products help us help others. We do save lives and our computers and software are a big part of why we are able to provide what we do in a timely fashion. We feed people. We provide front line support for families of elders who suffer from diseases like Alzheimer’s. We help those seniors who are at risk of losing their homes, or have already slipped into the world of homelessness because of financial instability. We provide our services with kindness, respect and dignity and we have been doing this for over thirty five years. We’re not that unique. We’re just another one of the many organizations and individuals in the United States that care about other people. Senior Centers, Low-income Daycare Providers, Free Health Clinics, Food Banks, the Red Cross, and others who care for those in need are also deserving of your support.We, and the rest of the world, are facing the strangest economic and social times in the history of mankind. It will be possible to survive these circumstances if we work together to care for one another. It sounds idealistic, but this type of work is already being done by real people all over the world right now. It isn’t a dream, it is a reality. And our computers and software make it possible for all of us to do what we do well. Software programs like Excel and Access take on the burden of tracking each of these events in a simple way so that none of our clients falls through the cracks. How do programs like Excel, and Access and Outlook help us here at Senior Services? They make the essential tracking piece of our work easy even for our staff members and volunteers who are computer phobic. A good example of how we use programs is our meal tracking system. We track Meals on Wheels clients using Excel and Access. We served over 130,000 meals in Thurston and Mason County in 2008 to at-risk elders in a timely way because of Excel and Access. Our drivers, coordinators, and kitchen staff are able to easily see what food went where, and if there is a glitch in delivery this is visible because of the easy to use spreadsheets we have created. We use Outlook to schedule meetings and keep in touch with each other. We use Access and Excel to coordinate our 150 volunteers and 98 staff members. We use Word to draft stories, letters and other printed materials that support our work. Our agency is like an octopus; we have a central mission and vision, but seven different programs going in seven different directions. This is just the nature of caring for people. Life doesn’t happen in a straight line, and Microsoft products make it possible for us to stay on track. When a client suffers a big life change, like the loss of a spouse, we are able to see at a glance what they may need by looking at their client profile on our Access database. A great example how this works is our client Eleen. She originally came to us because she was no longer able to cook for her husband safely because of a degenerative eye disease was taking her sight. It’s a rather typical story. Eleen and her husband of 40 years were facing failing health and they helped their daughter and son-in-law move to Washington to be closer to them. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer and Eleen was simultaneously diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa a degenerative eye disorder. Eleens’ daughter helped as much as she could, but then in a completely random, freak accident her daughter was killed. Then the son-in-law also died. Eleen and her husband were left to fend for themselves. They wanted to maintain their independence and stay in their home, but that was becoming increasingly difficult because the husband was too ill to walk and the only way Eleen could tell if food was hot was to put her hand into the pan of cooking food. This resulted in burns and injuries, and when her neighbor saw what was happening she suggested Eleen connect with our Meals-on-Wheels program. Eleen called us, and we set up meal delivery for the next day. Eleen and her husband were so appreciative not only of the tasty, easy to make meals, but for the friendships and human contact that our volunteer delivery drivers provided. Social isolation in seniors is a very prevalent problem which can result in depression and inadequate care as well as elder abuse. This couple was able to continue to live in their home until the husbands’ death. Eleen continues to receive our services and is still living independently because of our Meals on Wheels program. We also connected Eleen to in-home care via our Care Connection Program and a support group for seniors with vision impairment. She loves her delivery drivers and new friends and depends on them to keep in touch with her. Her story is not unique but it clearly illustrates how much impact something as simple as an easy to prepare meal can have on a senior. We also use Powerpoint, Publisher, and Frontpage to keep our donors and the public aware of what we are doing and how they can help. All of you at Microsoft are powerful partners in our work whether you realize it or not. You have given us and others the tools to get this important work done well, and simply. I hope you know the positive impact you have had on all of our lives. It’s not just software to us, it’s the thing that makes all of this caring possible, and we are truly thankful for it.


Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Project Image
STARS Client.jpg