Marin Couple Thankful for Giving to Whistlestop

My husband Dennis and I both feel a strong desire to give back, thanks to the community-minded and giving spirit of our parents and grandparents.

Dennis’ grandfather owned the only meat market in Larkspur back in 1921. When Dennis started working at Larkspur Market as a teenager, he heard stories about his grandfather’s contributions and good deeds. Many elderly patrons would actually thank him for how his grandfather extended house credit for meat purchases during the Great Depression and WWII. In fact, he later learned the extent of the help when he discovered many old, unpaid accounts.

Susan and Dennis GilardiMy family also gave back to the community through our church and other civic programs. Although this sense of community responsibility has been instilled in me throughout my life, I now have a more personal reason for wanting to give back: my mother.

My mother is 94 and I am grateful I have had her in my life for so long. Two of my sisters, both retired, live a 10-minute drive away from my mother and enjoy many frequent activities with her. Their willingness to give their time helps her feel connected and vibrant. Mom is fiercely independent and prides herself on her ability to drive her friends and herself to the store and to appointments. Her circle of friends provide love, belonging and companionship.

Mother has always been a great cook – neighbors and friends never lacked for homemade goodies for holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. But lately, she doesn't have the interest or energy to cook for one, and only seems to enjoy eating when someone else cooks and eats with her. She doesn’t want to eat alone. She is slowing down a bit and doesn’t drive around as much. Lunch with friends and dinner with her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters remain highlights for her.

I feel very fortunate my mother enjoys so much support from family and friends, and it saddens me to know that there are many elderly women in my Marin community who don't have that same support. They live alone, can no longer drive, and like my mother, they may not enjoy cooking for one and eating alone. That's why I am grateful for the opportunity to support all the services Whistlestop provides – from its many nutrition programs to transportation services, from its Active Aging Center where seniors feel connected and engaged to its Jackson Café where they can share a meal with friends.

Our grandparents and parents actively shared their time and resources in our community, which instilled in both of us a responsibility to do the same. It feels good to give back to an organization such as Whistlestop that does so much for our senior neighbors who may be less fortunate. These seniors are somebody’s mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister or grandparent. We feel it’s our responsibility to give back and we are fortunate we have the means to do so. We invite others to join us in supporting Whistlestop.

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