Bakary Diame comes to the Mountain View Senior Center almost every day to enjoy a meal and socialize with his friends, and he relies on a careful combination of biking and public transit to get there.
So when his bike was stolen earlier this year, “it disrupted the whole way that I function during the day,” he told the Voice.
But Diame didn’t have to wait long before he was back on his favorite mode of transit. He was soon connected with the Mountain View Public Safety Foundation, which through its Senior Care Program offers assistance to older community members and others in need of help or repairs.
After hearing that Diame needed a bike, Foundation Board Chair Bruce Barsi and his son fixed up a used bike they had on hand and gave it to Diame.
“There were parts that needed to be purchased (for the bike) and those parts came out of the Senior Care budget,” Barsi said. “When we have to buy things to make the project work, we have the funding, mostly grant funding, that allows us to do that. But the bulk of it is just our time.”
When the Mountain View Public Safety Foundation was established about a decade ago, it was focused on helping meet the needs of the city’s police and fire departments.
“That meant equipment, training, things like that,” said Barsi, a retired Mountain View police officer.
But as the organization has grown and evolved over the past 10 years, so too have the services it offers. While continuing to support local sworn officers and first responders through things like affordable training and hardship relief funds, the Mountain View Public Safety Foundation also works directly with local residents to help them live safer and healthier lives.
This nuanced approach to public safety is baked into the organization’s mission, Barsi said.
“It basically means helping people feel safe in their community and making lives as good as they can be,” Barsi said. “That’s what we strive for, and as we’ve evolved I think we’ve gone more toward that.”
One of the programs the Foundation is best known for is the Cop & Gobblers annual Thanksgiving food drive. Barsi and fellow officer Steve Mello started the tradition in the late '90s when the pair gave out 15 food baskets to families in need. The Foundation eventually took over the food drive’s operations, and today the event serves more than 500 families each year, while also bringing hundreds of volunteers together to make it all happen.
But perhaps less widely recognized are the smaller acts of kindness that the Foundation does year-round – such as those through the Senior Care Program. Giving someone a bike, replacing a smoke detector in a home or installing a handrail in a shower might seem minor, but these actions can make a world of difference for that person's safety and wellbeing, Barsi said.
“We try to be responsive and get things done,” Barsi said. “If there’s a significant need, we’re not going to waste time with bureaucratic stuff. We’ll get started and we’ll get it done as quick as we can.”
People looking to make a donation to the Foundation can choose which cause they’d like their funds to go toward, such as Cops & Gobblers, the Senior Care Program, training and equipment for local public safety departments, or the organization’s First Responder Benevolent Fund, which offers assistance to first responders and their families impacted by the pandemic or another tragedy. Community donations, in combination with grant funding, make the Foundation’s work possible, said Executive Director Amber Wilson.
“While we were looking at obviously supporting our public safety (departments) when we created this organization, it has spread way farther, and it’s because of the times that we live in,” Wilson said. “Things are so expensive, and it’s just not affordable to live on such a fixed income in Mountain View.”
For Diame, receiving support in the form of a bike was exactly what he needed.
“We need a helping hand in life,” Diame said. “Knowing that it’s there makes you feel more relaxed.”
Seniors in the community who need assistance can print out the application for the Senior Care Fund on the Foundation’s website. If someone needs help filling out the application, they can reach the Foundation at 650-429-4367.
on May 20, 2023 at 2:12 pm
on May 20, 2023 at 2:12 pm
Bruce Barsi continues to be a real community asset through his various community volunteer positions (like past work on CHAC board) etc.