I sincerely hope this finds you all in good health! As we close out a very tough year for all of us, especially the seniors of our city, I want to reflect on the past seven months.

The last time I wrote a column in The Galt Herald was back in April, when our city, our state and our country were settled with a thing called COVID-19. We all remember when everything pretty much shut down because of this virus, reopened some and we are now back to isolation. The Commission on Aging and the Galt Senior Resource Center (GSRC) shut down as well and, unfortunately, we are still shut down. We will open as soon as the city permits to do so.

In my last column, I passed on information regarding where people, especially seniors, could find food and other items, either for delivery or for pick up at minimal or no cost. I hope that you kept this list and took and continue to take advantage of those services. Some members of the commission, especially fellow Commissioner Andrea Johnson, at great personal sacrifice, and Bob and Tara Wilson, two of the volunteers of the Galt Seniors Resource Center, did what they could to be of assistance, and I commend them for it! I also hope that those of you who have our 2020 Galt Senior Resource Calendar found and continue to find it helpful.

This lockdown was a “wake-up call”, for me personally. I realized that the Commission, by way of the GSRC, could, should and will play a much bigger role in being the resource for our senior population that they were set up to be in the coming year – 2021!

I, together with my fellow commissioners, want to make sure that in the coming year the Commission on Aging and the GSRC, in cooperation with existing governmental and non-governmental organizations, do all we possibly can to better advocate for the seniors in Galt should we, God forbid, experience yet another community-wide emergency, be it natural, health-related (as COVID-19 continues to be) or man-made! It is my commitment to the seniors of our city to keep you informed of our progress in this matter, at least bi-monthly.

I would like to thank Ms. Leslie Adorno at SMUD for sending me helpful information for SMUD customers “that may be experiencing financial hardship” during this difficult time. There is a special program that, according to SMUD, is called: “Powering Forward Together”. A part of that program says “we will not disconnect power due to nonpayment and will not add late fees to your bill during this time. Customers who are behind in payment will still owe SMUD for service, but electric service will remain on at this time”.

SMUD is also offering “Flexible Payment Plans”. This Powering Forward Together program is offered through Jan. 4, 2021 to all SMUD customers, but I would like to especially draw our seniors’ attention to it. If you are a SMUD customer, are in need of assistance or if you have any questions or concerns, you are encouraged to contact SMUD either online at smud.org/HereToHelp or by calling 1-888-742-7683.

Finally, the 2021 resource calendars will be arriving very soon, and I will let you know, in my next report, where or how, under the existing COVID restrictions, seniors may be able to get one free of charge – courtesy of the Commission on Aging. I wish all the seniors in our city a Very Merry Christmas!

As always, be safe, be healthy, be happy!

Robert Balliet is the chair of the city of Galt Commission on Aging.