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Community events point Turlockers to resources
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Two faith-based organizations are hosting events this week meant to both educate community members and point them in the right direction for services that can assist them, whether they be elders targeted by phone scams or families looking for rental assistance.


On Friday, a morning Senior Empowerment Seminar will be held by the Catholic Charities Diocese of Stockton, and in the afternoon, The Salvation Army will host its 8th annual Community Awareness Day. Though different in topics, both events aim to increase awareness by hosting local organizations that will provide information to attendees, free of charge.


The Catholic Charities’ Stanislaus Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance is sponsoring the annual Senior Empowerment Seminar, which program manager Simona Rios said focuses on both raising awareness about elder abuse as well as preventing it.


“One of the goals of the event is to make sure people understand elder abuse is still prevalent,” Rios said. “We try to teach them things that could be considered abuse, scams to avoid and resources they can use to prevent it from happening to themselves.”


Elder abuse can be physical, emotional and financial, or can simply be neglect. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one in 10 Americans age 60 and up experienced abuse over one year, and many in multiple forms. The annual financial loss by victims of elder financial exploitation, which often occurs through phone scams, is estimated to be $36.48 billion.


In 2017, over 160 cases of abuse have been reported to Adult Protective Services in Turlock alone. Still, for every instance of abuse that is reported, 23.5 cases are not reported.


“Sometimes people are concerned about their neighbor or a friend, but they’re afraid to call and make a report,” Rios said. “We help people navigate where they can get the best service for that person or themselves, and to me that’s always positive because we brought something to them that is valuable.”


The Senior Empowerment Seminar will teach attendees ways to prevent financial and other types of elder abuse, and in addition, 20 agencies will be on hand with information and resources. Topics will include scams that target seniors, fire and police safety and advanced health care directives. Council member Bill DeHart will serve as Master of Ceremonies, and Joyce Gandleman of the Senior Law Project will be the guest speaker.


The seminar will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Assyrian American Civic Club, 2618 N. Golden State Blvd., and is free of charge.


Also on Friday, The Salvation Army’s Community Awareness Day will provide resources for those who may need utility or rental assistance, food, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, job resources and more. The event first began in 2011 and has since provided aid to hundreds of Turlock community members, from families with children to homeless individuals.


“We started this event because we noticed that the clients we were serving at The Salvation Army never knew where to go to find resources,” Salvation Army social services director Lissette Maunakea said. “It’s amazing that there are so many people who need help but don’t know what’s out there.”


The nonprofit organization’s Community Awareness Day asks attendees the questions, “Do you need help?” and “Do you know where to go?” The event is a partnership between The Salvation Army, Community Housing and Shelter Services, Turlock Irrigation District, Aspiranet and Prodigal Sons & Daughters, who, along with other organizations at the event, will be present to hand out information and brochures to those who may need assistance.


“Whatever their crisis is, whatever their need it, we will show them where to go,” Maunakea said.


According to Maunakea, the event has helped hundreds of people each year, from 18-year-olds to seniors. Often, those that they help reach out to The Salvation Army in the following months to thank them for their help.


“They come and touch base with us and let us know how they’re doing,” Maunakea said. “We’ve seen families that were homeless who now have a place to live. We want to others to utilize these resources that are out there for low income families and see that same success.”


The Salvation Army’s Community Awareness Day will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at The Salvation Army, 893 Lander Ave., and is free of charge. In addition to access to resources, attendees will receive a free lunch and a bag of food to take home.