By Alicia Doyle, Ventura County Star,  May 10, 2011

As Carol Freeman prepares to leave her role as president of Senior Concerns, she is humbled and honored by the kind words, praise and wishes for a good retirement.

“None of what I have done was accomplished single-handedly,” said Freeman, 66, of Thousand Oaks. “I am grateful for the community support over the years who have made it possible to continue the promise that Senior Concerns will be there for future generations.”

Senior Concerns is a private nonprofit in Thousand Oaks that’s dedicated to serving the senior community — especially frail and special-need seniors.

Monday marked Freeman’s last day on the job as president — a role she assumed in October 2006. Before that, she served on the board of directors as a volunteer for five years.

“I will continue to support the organization by proclaiming their story and value to all who will listen, give my financial support and any time they ask of me,” Freeman said.

Freeman will be succeeded by Lori Litel of Valencia.

“My plans are to work with the dedicated staff, board of directors and other community stakeholders to create a strategic growth plan — both short- and long-term — for Senior Concerns,” said Litel, who has taught social work and gerontology as a field professor for graduate students for 15 years. She also has extensive experience in all areas of nonprofit management.

“I have worked as an executive director for a large multipurpose center in the city of Los Angeles, which provided comprehensive programming and services for both active adults and frail seniors for more than 18 years,” said Litel, who plans to relocate to Thousand Oaks. “I have an entrepreneurial spirit and a great passion for helping the most frail and vulnerable seniors in the community. This position will be a labor of love for me. I look forward to following in the very capable footsteps of Carol.”

In retirement, Freeman plans “to explore a side of life I have never known — the nonworking world. Work was starting to interfere with my fun.” She plans to “enjoy my home, maybe even organize the den. Or maybe my vegetable garden will actually live this year.” She also plans to travel with her husband.

“There comes a time when one knows it is time to turn the reins of responsibility over to someone else,” Freeman added. When she took the helm, “we had several years of deficit spending. We have turned that around by refining operations and finding new sources of funding through grants and even fundraising.” Under her leadership, “we started several new programs such as Senior Chat, Brain Fitness and Memory Day.” Still, “there are many things left to be done.”

She continued, “Senior Concerns is entering a time of potential great expansion to provide much needed services in Simi Valley, Moorpark and other communities. Plus the wave of baby boomers coming our way will require new programs out in the community. It is an exciting time for someone to take the lead and continue that lead for many years.”

Senior Concerns started 35 years ago as a grass-roots volunteer group with Meals on Wheels. It has expanded services to include adult day care for frail seniors, case management, senior advocacy, support groups and, most recently, brain fitness, according to Freeman.

“Our goal is to provide the resources and guidance necessary to seniors to remain in their own homes for as long as possible,” she said. “Services are provided without fees or based on ability to pay. We are financially supported by our wonderful Bargain Boutique/Thrift store, grants and a generous community.”

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