ED GOLDMAN: She's hungry for challenges

Sacramento Business Journal, Ed Goldman

Donna Yee’s 88-year-old mom, a widow, lives next door to her daughter’s workplace. Yee is the chief executive officer of the Asian Community Center, which dedicates itself to the wellbeing of senior citizens (of all cultures, despite the implication of its name). Her mom lives in the center’s 166-unit senior apartment community, ACC Greenhaven Terrace.

As if the New York City-born/San Francisco-raised Yee didn’t have enough on her plate — this is her 14th year at the helm of the center — she agreed, a few years ago, to take over Meals On Wheels, a former Sacramento County program.

“The county called us and said, ‘We’re thinking of giving up Meals On Wheels and wonder if you’d be interested in taking it on.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ But they talked to other nonprofits about running it and we seemed to be the logical choice. Our missions were compatible.”

ACC does all of the accounting, payroll and fund development for Meals On Wheels — or, as Yee puts it, “We’re its mother ship.” While each organization has professional staffs — ACC has 180 employees, and Meals On Wheels has 22 — each also relies on approximately 500 volunteers to fulfill its mission.

To qualify for a hot, five-times-a-week meal, all a person needs to be is 60 years old. “Age is the only requirement,” yes says. ”Participants aren’t means-tested” — though lower-income seniors are its principal customers. A donation of $2.50 per meal “is suggested, not requested,” she says.

Yee says that as successful as Meals On Wheels appears to be, “We’re serving only about 2 percent of all the people in Sacramento County who are 60 or older and could be using our program.”

A lively, good-humored woman, with a thatch of thick, short hair and a wide, ingratiating smile, Yee earned a Ph.D. in social policy from Brandeis University’s highly regarded Heller School. She’s been in the long-term care business for 40 years. In tomorrow’s column, we’ll learn a bit more about her lifelong commitment to seniors — and why she thinks, from the standpoint of medical health, seniors today “stand on the shoulders of our parents.”

This article was taken from http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/blog/ed-goldman/2013/02/ed-goldman-shes-hungry-for-challenges.html