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Pay It Forward: Smiles for Seniors Foundation

May 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Smiles for Seniors in Yucaipa aim to help seniors in desperate need who have no one else to turn to.

"When we heard about this particular Pay It Forward campaign that ABC was doing we just knew that we had to at least try," said Melinda Ross, who edited the video nominating Smiles for Seniors Foundationto receive a $7,000 grant to pay it forward.

Kathy Serianni founded the non-profit organization to help low income seniors when they can't afford to pay for food, medication or rent. The idea came as her mom struggled to pay for lung cancer treatment.

Senior centers in the area say the Smiles organization fills a need they can't.

"Our senior center does a lot of the recreation and the physical fitness things but the Smiles is able to provide a blood pressure machine, pay for utilities, pay for that co-pay for a prescription," said Kathy Knox, manager of Norton Younglove Senior Center in Calimesa.

"I was about ready to give up on life until I found Smiles for Seniors," said Perris senior Samuel Bostwick.

He says Smiles for Seniors bought his medication when he ran out of money and saved his life.

"I was a very bitter person until I saw that there are people in America that will help you," he said.

Serianni says with the $7,000 they can fund dozens of seniors and start a cycle of giving. She says she doesn't ask to be repaid but tells seniors, if they can, to pay it forward.

"Thank you ABC for choosing this organization because it's really going to help save a lot of seniors lives," Ross said through tears when it was announced the organization had been chosen by ABC7's panel.

"I have a smile, and I haven't smiled in years, because they changed me," said Bostwick.

The organization says they are willing to drive anywhere in the Inland Empire to help a senior in need

If you would like to contact the Smiles for Seniors Foundation or donate to the organization, go to www.smilesforseniorsfoundation.org or call (909) 790-6671.


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