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Safe Seniors Seminar
Making sure to take care of an especially vulnerable population - the area's senior citizens - several groups converged on the Riverbank Community Center on Friday morning to offer up some valuable information.

The S.A.F.E., Seniors Against Financial Exploitation, seminar was sponsored by Catholic Charities, Stanislaus Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance, WestAmerica Bank, The Congress of California Seniors, Walgreens and Verizon Foundation. Walgreens was on hand to provide flu shots and many area agencies and businesses had tables and displays set up to offer information. A series of speakers also touched on topics of concern to an aging population, ranging from elder abuse to financial issues.

Linda Winter and Jimmy Villegas of WestAmerica Bank were manning their table at the event.

"We just want to educate the seniors on some financial issues, what to watch for on their accounts," said Winter.

She said many seniors are getting in to online banking and they do have staff available to help guide the area seniors through that process.

The District Attorney's Victims Services program, Provident Care out of Modesto, the Stanislaus Regional Transit System, the local S.T.A.R.S. police volunteers and CareMore were also among those organizations with booths and information.

City Manager Jill Anderson said the goal of the event was to help seniors "protect yourself and those you love" and Police Chief Bill Pooley also provided information on a number of scams that seniors should be aware of and protect against being victimized by, especially phone scams where callers seek to gain private information and bank account numbers.

"Never, ever give out your personal information," Pooley said.

Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Alan Cassidy was the primary speaker, with a presentation of "Power Against Fraud" and those attending also had the chance to ask questions of presenters.

"The police department can be your friend, make them that way," emcee Carla Strong of WestAmerica Bank offered. "Your banker is the same way, we're both trying to look out for your best interests."

Among those attending, city resident Carolyn Grzecki said it was well worth it.

"It's very good information, I'm so glad I came," she said.

The sentiment was echoed by Shelley R. Jasper of Modesto, who comes to Riverbank for the Tai Chi classes at the community center and wanted to attend the seniors program.

Special thanks went to two Starbucks locations at Oakdale and Orangeburg, Coffee and Floyd in Modesto, for providing the morning pastries and treats, with donations also from Home Depot, O'Brien's Market, Walgreens, the City of Riverbank, WestAmerica Bank and Riverbank Christian Food Sharing.