Before taking on the role as program coordinator at NCPHS’s Downtown Senior Center, Peggy Gallagher had spent 10 years as the Senior Marketing Manager at Sony’s video game division. She remembers her early experience of explaining tech, when she recalls describing how the new Sony Playstation was “just like Nintendo!.”
The goal of NCPHS (Northern California Presbyterian Homes and Services) is to offer senior housing that also provides residents the ability to access programs and services available in the community. NCPHS works closely with many nonprofit organizations in the Bay Area like CTN to offer activities and educational programs to connect residents to each other, the community at large, and — through the internet — to the rest of the world.
Peggy began her work at the NCPHS as a volunteer, assisting with an anniversary event as a sponsor recruiter. After six months, NCPHS director Sue Horst asked if she’d be interested in a position at the Downtown Senior Center working “with low-income seniors, for little money, where you see drug deals out the window.” Peggy said, “Yes!”
A powerful attitude throughout the Downtown Center is tolerance at every level. Peggy shared the story of Robert (pictured), a homeless man, who did not want to engage with anyone when he first arrived. The staff let him be himself, recognizing his presence without pushing participation. As a result of the welcoming environment, Robert gradually began to become more outgoing. He now readily introduces himself, shares jokes, and regularly joins other residents at mealtime.
The lab is in high demand, “There’s such opportunity to learn,” Peggy says, with people excited to speak with a volunteer and explore what can be done online. Many have learned to use a computer and set up an email address for the first time through the guidance of CTN’s staff. During her time at Downtown, Peggy considers CTN’s provision of training as key to turning the Downtown Senior Center’s lab into a powerful space that impacts the lives of many every day.
In August, Peggy decided to exchange the streets of the Tenderloin for views of redwoods and transferred to a NCPHS location in the North Bay. We will miss her, but we look forward to continuing the strong partnership she helped us build at Downtown Senior Center.