was executive director of the in Valley Village from 2008 until last month. She administered delivery of services to seniors from across the east valley with programs like case management, congregate hot lunches, grocery shopping, housekeeping, handyworker, meals to the homebound and activities and recreation.
Revord directed all the programs with, she says, “one and a half people to help me.” The center also employs dozens of volunteers and Title V employees whom Revord also supervised.
The center was one of three multipurpose centers managed by the Valley Interfaith Council (VIC), “a coalition of caring persons and organizations constituted as a diverse membership interfaith council,” says its website, established in 1964 to serve low-income, disabled or elderly adults.
After seven years with VIC, on Feb. 29 this year, Revord was terminated without notice.
“It was about as mean spirited as something you’d expect in a cutthroat corporate environment,” she said. “It was not something that I expected from an organization with roots in faith traditions and engaged in social service.”
She was told that she was done during a scheduled meeting and then escorted off the premises by VIC’s chief operating officer Ilene Parker. No reason for termination was given. Revord recounts that Parker told her, “That’s just the way we decided to do it.”
When asked by Patch for an explanation, Parker only said, “We don’t talk about employment issues. I have no comment.”
The leave taking was painful for Revord. “There were very few people around so I just went around and started hugging people and started crying,” she recalled.
Revord came to VIC after a long successful career as a television and film producer. Her first position with the council was as nutrition coordinator at their Sunland dining center, one of 11 VIC nutrition sites. After only one year in that position she became community outreach coordinator for the entire agency working from their main office located at the time in Chatsworth.
“I created a comprehensive branding program for VIC for the first time,” she told me.
She devised and executed advertising campaigns and a PR plan to support fund-raising efforts for the agency. In that capacity she forged relationships with senior service providers, non-profits, government agencies, neighborhood councils, community groups and elected officials to increase awareness of VIC services.
The relationships she cultivated served her well in the position of executive director of the North Hollywood multipurpose center, which she assumed in 2008.
“That was one of the most serious professional challenges I ever had in my career history,” Revord said. “I’ve had some pretty complex jobs. I travelled a film crew around the world for a documentary and managed large groups of creative young people for ad agencies.
“But that was so multi-tiered, so many challenges running in tandem. There was managing the delivery of the basic services, the interactions with all of the clients – clients came from every stratum of socioeconomic demographics you can imagine. You had to be very perceptive in the client service perspective because every client was coming from a different place. In order to best serve them, you had to find out who they were first.”
The center fed 300-plus active and homebound clients a hot lunch every weekday and provided essential services to frail homebound elders to help them age in place with dignity. For active seniors, they conducted trips, exercise and activities, classes, health education and celebratory special events. Center staff assisted retirees with affordable housing placement, prepared hundreds of senior tax returns annually, and gave discount haircuts and massages weekly.
“And then there was the fundraising component. Fundraising was not part of the job description given to me by the CEO who hired me,” she said.
Budgets had been continually cut back for 10 to 15 years by the time Revord came on the scene. Then, she said, the L.A. Department of Aging started requiring matching funds from grant recipients. Revord launched a grassroots fundraising campaign that netted $300,000 in cash and real property over three years. Donations came from clients, families, homeowners and neighborhood associations. She regards forging community partnerships as one of the most gratifying aspects of her job.
“In 2009, I joined the Studio City Chamber of Commerce and made my fundraising pitch to their members and board. As a result, they decided to make East Valley Multipurpose Senior Center one of the non-profit beneficiaries of their 4th of July Fireworks Festival, an annual community project undertaken in partnership with CBS Studios and held on the lot,” Revord wrote to Patch in an email. “That arrangement continued for three years, and each year the Chamber presented us with a check for $2,500 from the proceeds.”
At the time of the first Patch on the senior center, Revord was gearing up to the whole operation to Sherman Oaks. A newly constructed campus would house a combined organization comprising the East Valley Center and the existing adult center in Van Nuys Park. The project was a partnership with Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department that would merge clients, services and activities. In October 2010 Revord told Patch that the move was scheduled for the following month. Red tape slowed the process down for almost another year.
“The move was a huge job and another one of those parallel tasks that made the whole challenge so complex and wonderfully textured,” said Revord. “It was like playing wack-a-mole. You never knew when the next mini crisis was going to raise its head.”
She smoothed the way for the merger by introducing key personnel to a large group of Sherman Oaks seniors, who were frightened and angry about the change. “I started to build bridges and allay their fears,” she said. “All of the Rec and Park staff were excellent partners to the VIC staff.”
She held a focus group with six seniors from the center in the park and six from North Hollywood and had them name the facility. Sherman Oaks/East Valley Adult Center is the name they chose.
The place finally opened in August 2011. The grand opening took place in October.
Revord recalled of the merger, “We moved on a Saturday and reopened on the following Tuesday. Since then we estimated that we served 5-6,000 clients a year [in North Hollywood], and at this new location it has doubled,” Revord said with pride.
Patch was there on Thursday of opening week for a of the new offices and lunchroom. Activities were in full swing and Rec and Park and VIC worked together in harmonious cooperation.
“Successful building of community partnerships, the move and fundraising are the three accomplishments I’m most proud of in that job,” said Revord.
The valley has lost a dedicated advocate for seniors with the termination of Sherry Revord. She came to VIC with no background in social service and the work turned her life around.
“I learned something important about myself,” Revord said. “The rewards of the heart that come from a service like that are far more valuable than high salaries. So, going forward, I’m hoping I can stay in the public service sector somehow – and if it could be senior service that would be wonderful.”
The Sherman Oaks/East Valley Adult Center is, of course, open and functioning. Ilene Parker is serving as interim director. Her telephone voicemail is still answered by Revord’s greeting.