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History

Whistlestop '69

In 1954, a grass roots community group decided to band together to make sure their elders were not forgotten. This was before the time of senior centers, considerations for people with disabilities, or specialized transportation. They started the Marin Senior Coordinating Council (aka Whistlestop), a charitable senior-focused organization formed with the intention of providing programming, advice and administrative services to organizations working to better the lives of older adults.

In 1968, the first volunteer-based ride service began with one vehicle, a stepping stool to help folks into the vehicle, and a commitment to help one another. These simple acts of kindness have blossomed through the years and now Whistlestop provides over 145,000 rides annually, with city-based shuttles and paratransit services for those who are not able to use public buses.

Today, Whistlestop has a vibrant, active aging center with a full schedule of services and activities. We are the largest nonprofit serving older adults in Marin County!

The original vision of the community group formed in 1954 has come true—not only are the older adults in Marin County not forgotten, but we are helping them stay connected, active and engaged in life to their fullest ability.”

-Joe O’Hehir, CEO

MARIN SENIOR COORDINATING COUNCIL

KEY HISTORICAL EVENTS

August 4,1954Marin Senior Coordinating, Inc. Incorporated
May1961First Senior Recognition Program
November1963First SUN newsletter printed
April1964H.O.M.E. Committee started
December1965County Activities Center Plan approved
November1965County Board of Supervisors authorizes application for Older American Act monies
May1965First Outstanding Senior Awards presented
May1965Master Plan for Older Adults approved by Board of Supervisors
July1966State of California authorizes Older Americans’ Act Grant #1 to Council
May1966Council approved as Advisory Committee to Board of Supervisors
September1967Senior Citizens’ Forum started
June1967First Defensive Driver Training Course offered
February1967Executive Director, Ed Ryken, hired by Marin Senior Coordinating Council, Inc.
March1967City-sponsored Senior Citizen Clubs supported and funded by County of Marin
March1968Transportation Program begins with one vehicle and a volunteer driver
September1968First Program Staff employed – Lu Hodgen joined staff
July1968Leased Housing Program begins; pre-retirement, tax assistance, adult education classes, first annual picnic, and personal development classes begin
August1969Senior Enterprises begin
August1969Employment Division begins operation
June1969Council appointed Workable Program Committee by county
July1969First Camping Trip
October1970First Holiday Crafts Workshop begins
July1970First Exercise Class offered
August1970C.A.S.A. formed
October1971Whistlestop Senior Center opens formal activities as a senior center
October1971Vera Schultz and Ed Ryken attend second White House Conference on Aging
July1971County of Marin supports Executive Director’s salary
February1971Began operation in Northwestern Railroad Depot
July1972Kitchen Project begins
February 5, 1972Whistlestop officially opens with dedication of Lounge
January1972Marin County Transit District funds Council to provide paratransit services: major step forward in transportation
August1973Whistlestop Dining-Car Program begins
November1973Whistlestop Deals Boutique Shop opens
May1973Senior Citizens’ Blood Bank developed
February1973North Bay Senior Planning Council formed
January1973Council appointed Commission on Aging to the Board of Supervisors
December1974George Leonard’s challenge is met and $40,000 is placed in the Building Fund for purchase of the Whistlestop
July1974George Leonard makes $20,000 matching-fund offer for purchase of Whistlestop
May1974First Annual Arts & Crafts Show
January1974Club Car developed
July1975Information & Referral begins operation
June1975Sunday Dinners Begin
August1976Second George Leonard Matching Fund begins - $10,000
December1976Second George Leonard Fund matched and placed in Building Fund
August1976Noontime Nutrition Program begins under Title VII of the Older Americans’ Act
January1976Whistlestoppers established
July1977New Board elections procedures adopted
February1977Marin Area Agency on Aging formed. Commission on Aging functions transferred to Area Agency on Aging; Council retains main program function for program function for programs on aging
January1977First Annual Volunteer Dinner
March1978Mini-market Program developed
July1979First Resource Directory developed
April 29, 1980Whistlestop is purchased
November1980Holiday Bazaar starts
November1981Ed Ryken, Delegate; Lu Hodgen, Alternate – Repersentatives to Third White House Conference on Aging
June1981New Kitchen and Activities Room remodeling begins
July1982Sunday Dinner Programs begin
March1982Emergency Flood Project
March 12, 1982Whistlestop North purchased
September 19,1983New direction in paratransit services undertaken by Council
July 25,1983Second-story addition to Whistlestop begins
March 19, 1984Dedication of second-story addition to the Whistlestop
April 12,1988Completion of Whistlestop remodeling and addition project
July 1, 1989Marin Community Foundation provides Grant for three years of operation – Core Program
June1990The Carma Holland Endowment created
July1992Food Service Program Adjustment – Focus on Home Delivered Meals
April1993Multi-Cultural Program transferred to MSCC
June1994Independent Elders Project begins
June1995Purchase of Maintenance Base at 648 Lindaro Street
May1996Freezer Project Remodeling
August2006Interim Executive Director, Gail Miller, hired by Marin Senior Coordinating Council, Inc.
July2006Whistlestop ended the Meals On Wheels contract
June2006Transportation department moved into 15 Jordan Street location
Summer2007Remodel of the Café
January2008Executive Director, Joe O'Hehir, hired by Marin Senior Coordinating Council, Inc.
November2010Homeward Bound starts to run the Café with Whistlestop volunteers
November2010Started partnership with the Pacific Sun newspaper to design, produce and distribute the updated Whistlestop Express monthly newsletter
July2010Mobility Management Center starts
June2010Mobile Data Terminals installation is implemented in all paratransit vehicles
June2011Started the Enduring Generosity Campaign to secure monthly contributions
December2011Whistlestop website launched in Spanish
November2011Gary Ragghianti hosts our Community Leaders’ Forum on key issues facing Whistlestop
April2011Whistlestop Facebook page launched
February2011New website debuts at www.whistlestop.org
August2012Whistlestop employees and community supporters enjoy special nights in their honor at the new San Rafael Pacifics baseball games
September2012Whistlestop receives the Lifehouse Open Arms Award
July2012Launched the newly revised Meals On Wheels home delivery program with the County of Marin
January2012Pacific Sun designs, produces and distributes the 24th edition of the Directory of Older Adult Services in Marin
January2013Announced the Whistlestop 2.0 Project to redevelop the 930 Tamalpais Ave property to include 50 units of affordable housing