By Kayla Anderson
The Sparks Senior Citizen’s Advisory Committee (SSCAC) held its first informal meet and greet last week at the Sparks Senior Center on 97 Richards Way to acknowledge and network with fellow Sparks Committee members.
Last August, Sparks City Councilman Donald Abbott put out a call for applications to form a committee that can address and perhaps provide solutions on issues affecting aging Sparks citizens, giving them a unified voice as they present these issues to city council. After receiving about 20 applications, the Sparks mayor and city council members each appointed a senior to serve on the committee.
Each city council member chose one person and one alternate to serve on the committee and the mayor could appoint two people and two alternates.
“I stressed to the other city council members that I wanted them to pull members from their own wards because different wards have different issues,” says Sparks City Councilman Donald Abbott. For instance, outside of Sparks’ core area, transportation can be an issue for seniors who don’t drive anymore. In the outskirts of town, the local transit routes run a little thin and while the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) offers taxi bucks for seniors, they may often still feel secluded and it can be harder to get around.
“In Ward 1 there are more alternatives for seniors, but outside of the core area they may experience less interaction with people. It’s important to have that social engagement and involvement with the community on a more frequent basis,” Abbott says.
For his own appointment, Abbott chose Sparks native LaMerne Kozlowski who has lived in the city for more than 50 years and is a professor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, what Abbott calls “the UNR for seniors”.
“She’s largely involved in the senior community- not only just in Sparks but in all of Washoe County,” he says. He says that Marsy Kupfersmith will be representing Ward 5 on the SSCAC and also serves on the Washoe County Senior Advisory Board. “She is very big on senior issues in the area,” Abbott says.
Ever since Abbott was elected to the Sparks City Council, it had been a goal of his to make the community more cognizant of senior issues. The informal March 1 meet and greet was attended by the majority of Committee members and complemented by donuts from Abbott’s favorite place in town- the Donut Bistro. Plus, all of his fellow city councilmembers showed up. “It shows that we are pro-senior and that our city is senior-friendly,” he says.
“We all knew all of our own appointments but not everyone else’s, so it was nice to get to know everyone in a no-pressure, casual setting,” says Abbott.
Next, the SSCAC will host an official meeting where it chooses the positions of chairman, treasurer, secretary, et cetera, and determine how often the group wants to meet. Abbott will also attend all SSCAC meetings as a city council liaison to better keep a pulse on senior issues and be able to relay them back to his fellow city council members, all in an effort to help improve the quality of life for Sparks’ seniors. There are a few alternate positions still available on the Committee; anyone who is interested in being involved can apply online at https://cityofsparks.us/resources/resource/volunteer-bandc/ or in person at city hall.