News & Announcements

Thank You, Sara!

This month we say a big thank-you and bid farewell to our incredible Volunteer Coordinator, Sara Hanson-Andreu.

Here is Sara’s parting message:

May the 4th be with you! That’s what I was told by several people when I began here as the Volunteer Coordinator on May 4, 2017. When I was offered the chance to work at the “Jewel of the Junction,” I was overjoyed. My predecessor, Jill—who’s currently a substitute volunteer in the kitchen— spent time training me and then happily passed the reins to me to take over the job and the weight of keeping this place humming with steady volunteers.

Filling the many volunteer positions proved to be a challenge, but one that I was up for! The funny thing is, any time I was about to go upstairs and do the dishes myself, someone would walk through the door just in the nick of time and offer to help.

On any given weekday, we have 15-20 volunteers at the Senior Center supporting the kitchen, café, thrift shop and facilitating classes. A handful of other volunteers are out visiting seniors as Westside Friends in the community. We have amazing Meals on Wheels volunteers who serve meals to local seniors every Wednesday. And, we have many other volunteers who support our events, including Piano Bar and Rainbow Bingo.

Over the past six years, I have brought in more than 400 new volunteers to the Senior Center. Some neede community service hours and didn’t stay long, while others have been volunteering here much longer than most of our staff have been here. We have some long-time, very dedicated volunteers whom I will especially dearly miss.

To our volunteers: You truly amaze me every day. You give the gift of your precious time to make this community better and to make the lives of our seniors fuller and more rewarding. My sincere awe grows even more when I see younger volunteers with busy families who still find time to give to the Senior Center. It is truly an inspiration to us all. There is a quote I love by the American author Elizabeth Andrew, “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” It is this ‘heart’ of all of our volunteers that has kept me going—even when it has been challenging.

Although I am leaving my role as Volunteer Coordinator, I will be sticking around as a Lifetime Member of the Senior Center. I plan to enjoy this heartwarming space for years to come and probably even volunteer!

I won’t cry because it’s over, I will SMILE because it happened! With overflowing gratitude to the staff and volunteers of the Senior Center of West Seattle… see you soon.

Sara Hanson-Andreu


Meet Volunteer Junko Belcourt

Junko Belcourt enjoys getting to know customers at the Stop ‘N Shop. “I like helping them find useful items, as well as unusual treasures they might like,” she says. Junko loves history, so when she finds an interesting vintage item in the shop, she likes imagining the life that item may have had.

Junko grew up in Japan, attended dental college and worked as a dental assistant before traveling around Australia for a couple of years on a working holiday visa. She later also traveled to many places in Europe and Asia with her husband and children.

She wears many hats at the Stop ‘N Shop, helping with cashiering, providing customer service and processing donated items. Junko’s colleagues enjoy her calm demeanor, sense of humor and curiosity about the interesting items that are donated to the shop.



Meet Our Social Workers

by Toni Ameslav, MSW

If you have spent much time at our senior center, you’ve probably noticed an office next to Hatten Hall labeled “Social Worker.” This is the home of our two social workers, Mo and Toni. The senior center is very fortunate to have not one but two social workers! Together we provide social services full-time every week.

Our door is open to anyone who comes to the senior center for activities or classes, and you don’t have to be a member of the senior center to utilize our services. All of our services are confidential and free. If you wish to include family members, friends, or caregivers in your social work visit, we are happy to include them. Besides meeting in the office, we make home visits in West Seattle and the White Center area for those who are unable to come to the senior center. As social workers we stay up-to-date on social programs and services in the Seattle area and make appropriate referrals to community resources.

We frequently receive requests for assistance finding housing from people whose buildings are being renovated or who are facing a rent increase. We also assist with applications for subsidized housing. For those who want to remain in their homes (called “aging in place”) but are starting to need assistance with non-medical personal care, light housework, meal preparation, or shopping, we explain how home care may be beneficial and make referrals to local home care agencies. If the time arrives when a transition from independent living to a higher level of care is needed, we can help initiate a discussion (often with family members present) about how to find a facility that meets current and future needs.

Answering questions about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and assisting with applications is a big part of what we do. We answer basic questions like, “What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?” For people needing help choosing a Medicare plan, we also make referrals to specialists both in our senior center and in Sound Generations. We can help you determine what Medicare cost savings you may qualify for, and we assist with completing applications for these programs.

For those who need food assistance, we can help apply for the federal SNAP program (food stamps), as well refer to the West Seattle food bank.

Transportation options are becoming more and more important to our senior center participants. Our travel ambassadors at the senior center can help you navigate various forms of transportation in the Seattle area and our social workers are willing to assist also.

In addition to assisting with practical issues, we can provide emotional support if isolation, loneliness, or worries about your health are concerns for you. We can also assist you in finding a counselor for ongoing emotional support.

Besides the services we provide in our office and in homes, we also lead a variety of support groups that meet regularly at the senior center, including “Aging Well,” and diabetes, caregiver, and low vision support. If you are interested in joining any of these groups, please speak with Mo or Toni.

Even if you don’t have a need for social work assistance right now, please stop by our office during the week to meet us. We’re happy to get acquainted!