Staff Report

Volunteers gathered safely this week at the Goleta administration offices of Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CAC) to prepare packages of such items as toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, protective gloves and face masks.

Area businesses and organizations including Jordano’s, Montecito Bank & Trust, Dignity Health, Cottage Health, The Towbes Group, and Seniors Programs of Santa Barbara donated funding and products for the effort. The care packages will be hand-delivered to seniors along with a prepared meal, previously scheduled through the CAC Senior Nutrition program.

Many older community members, particularly those living alone, are not receiving the support they need during the coronavirus pandemic. To address this gap, CAC joined with several area nonprofits to identify isolated seniors and connect them to essential services or critical needs.

One of the specific actions embarked upon by CAC is the development and delivery of personal care packages utilizing its newly organized volunteer network.

“Since mid-March there has been a concentrated effort on getting food to our senior residents, but we also see other needs to be addressed,” said Pat Keelean, CEO of CAC. “Some seniors in our county are more isolated than others; they might not have family members who check in on them and help them out.

“These care packages consist of many of the items that are not readily available at grocery stores these days, such as paper goods and hand sanitizer.”

Sherry and Whitney Uyeda of Buellton were looking for a volunteer opportunity, and contacted CAC when they read an article on CAC’s Senior Nutrition program published in a local news outlet. “We called CAC and left a message. They called us right back and offered up these two days of care package assembly work in Goleta. We were happy to help,” they said.

“This is a community of givers,” said Linda Rosso, CAC development director. “Recent stories in the media about CAC’s Senior Nutrition program generated calls from residents who volunteered to deliver meals to seniors. From this response, we initiated a new volunteer operation at CAC. This was one of our first events.

“Thanks to our generous business community, and these kind-hearted volunteers. The number to call to volunteer is 805-964-8857 ext. 1105 or email me at”

CAC developed the senior care package initiative as part of a countywide consortium led by Family Service Agency (FSA) of Santa Barbara County, and that includes Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, Center for Successful Aging, Carpinteria Children’s Project, Community Partners in Caring, Cuyama Valley Family Resource Center, Little House by the Park, Lompoc Valley Medical Center, and Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People.

The consortium project was initiated with funding by the James S. Bower Foundation, Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, and an anonymous donor, and has received funding from the Zegar Family Foundation. To obtain assistance for seniors in-need in Santa Barbara County, residents can call the county helpline 2-1-1 or Senior Connection, 805-925-9554.

CAC creates opportunities for families and individuals to achieve stability through its 22 health and human service programs, including Senior Nutrition, Head Start, Weatherization and Energy Assistance, Family & Youth Services, and 2-1-1 Santa Barbara. CAC serves more than 10,000 people throughout the county each year. More information available at

Elisabeth Snyder of Solvang, vice chair of the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County Board.