Nevada County’s Gold Country Community Services’ new leader gets to work | TheUnion.com

Nevada County’s Gold Country Community Services’ new leader gets to work

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union

Gold Country Community Services — the local nonprofit that provides services to seniors — hired an experienced and highly-qualified new executive director thanks to a kitchen remodeling project.

Janeth Marroletti's first day on the job was Monday.

"My husband and I decided to take a trip over the January long holiday weekend and get away from the kitchen remodeling project in our house," said Marroletti, whose online research about weekend get-aways drew the couple to the Gold Country. "We drove through Grass Valley and Nevada City. We loved the towns, so the next month we came back and stayed at a hotel here. We fell in love with this area and started right away figuring out how to find jobs and move here."

Marroletti brings more than 15 years of experience working with senior populations across Southern California. She spent nearly 10 years overseeing Meals on Wheels and nutrition services in 21 cities in Orange County. She was also a team member of the first Elder Abuse Prevention Project at the University of Southern California's School of Gerontology, tasked with preventing elder abuse and bringing awareness to the needs of caregivers.

She earned a Master of Science degree in Public Health from CSU Fullerton, with an emphasis in gerontological health. She boasts a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services. Marroletti is also bi-lingual, fluent in Spanish and English. She is a member of the California Association of Senior Centers and a graduate of the American Society on Aging's Leadership Program.

"My husband and I wanted to move here after living in Los Angeles for 25 years," Marroletti said. "My passion and my goal is to increase the quality of life for our senior population, especially our vulnerable seniors. I think what I want is to be able to see the impact I'm making at the community level. Here you get a sense that the community is in support of each other."

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Her husband of four years, Louis, works in environmental technology. The couple purchased a home on five acres in the south county.

"I want to become a farm girl," she said. "I want to raise chickens, grow a garden, and have room for our two dogs to run."

Retiring Executive Director Sandy "Jake" Jacobson, who has led Gold Country Community Services since 2011, said she believes her successor is the perfect blend of energy and experience.

"She walked in on her first day and was eager to get going," said Jacobson. "I envision a GCCS that will be working smarter, not harder. She's asking all the right questions. She's already talking to staff about ways to do things more efficiently, the way they do things in the big city. I love the fact that her experience on the large scale is going to be effective at our smaller size."

One of Marroletti's first projects will be conducting a needs assessment.

"I want to know what's working and what's not," she said. "We'll hold a series of community meetings. I'll get input from the fire departments, police, business owners, city leaders, and meet anyone who has direct contact with seniors — which is everyone."

In addition to implementing new ideas, Marroletti plans to pursue existing goals of the organization. She'd like to consolidate senior services in one place – currently they're spread out over four locations. Nevada County has the second-largest population of 65-year-old and older seniors in California, yet it is one of few California counties without a senior center or multi-generational community center.

"The best solution would be to provide a hub where seniors can go, either a senior center or community center," Marroletti said. "We'll work with our partners to provide what seniors need. With my background in health education, I want to teach people about healthy aging and how can we give seniors resources so they can continue to age at home."

She said she is impressed with the group's services, such as enrichment classes and activities, nutritional support and the senior firewood program.

"It's unique," said Marroletti. "Seniors can get cold in the winter, and firewood is important to them. Meals on Wheels is also a definite need, but we're at capacity. I'd like us to be able to reach even more seniors, enhance programs, and take them to the next level."

As with all nonprofits, Marroletti knows money helps determine what can be done, and to what extent.

"One challenge is reaching out, discovering a need for services, and then not having the funding to provide it," said Marroletti.

Boosting the bottom line for programs that benefit seniors can be difficult, not only in Nevada County but across the nation. Only about two percent of American institutional philanthropy goes to aging programs — a percentage that has not changed substantially in the past 20 years.

Gold Country Community Services operates on an annual budget of $550,000, generating 60 percent through donations and fees and $270,000 in state and federal grants via the Agency on Aging Area 4. It receives no funding from local governments.

But Marroletti sees only options, not obstacles.

"We are here to provide services," said Marroletti, "and we're all in this together."

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.