By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Sixteen-year-old Palisades Charter High School student Catherine Hart recently founded the “Senior Essentials” program, which has provided free assistance to local seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She has recently created a website to increase awareness and drum up support. As a result, teens, moms and classmates are getting on board.
“I’m very encouraged by the enthusiasm that people have shown for this so far,” Hart said. “We’re a group of Palisades teenagers who volunteer our time to help the senior citizens in our community. It’s been great, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.”
Not only does the program meet her community service project, it also provides much-needed assistance during COVID—an idea Hart came up with while visiting her grandmother in New York.
“She was telling me what a pain it is waiting in line at CVS to pick up her own medicine and it got me thinking, it would be great if she had someone to do it for her, as well as other little things seniors may need,” she said. “I posted something on Nextdoor, although I wasn’t sure exactly what would be needed, and it got a pretty big response from people wanting to coordinate or volunteer.
“Now I have a few clients who I help regularly either with technology, delivering a package or running errands. I kept it pretty local, so most of them are here in the Palisades—Huntington, Highlands, Alphabet Streets—which helps with my scheduling.”
A sophomore honors student on the diving team at Pali High, Hart has been athletic all her life. She not only competes for her school team, she also trains with the Los Angeles Dive Club (based at UCLA) and is a competitive cheerleader with Santa Monica Athletix Xtreme. Before that, she was a gymnast for 10 years.
Hart and her family moved to Pacific Palisades from Long Island, New York, when she was 9. They first lived in the Alphabet Streets but relocated to the El Medio Bluffs five years ago.
She attended Palisades Charter Elementary School for fourth and fifth grade, then went to Paul Revere Charter Middle School for grades six through eight. Her parents are Christian and Colleen and she has two younger sisters. They are parishioners at Corpus Christi Church, where Catherine will be confirmed later this month.
“I have four or five people so far and I do weekly things like taking the garbage cans in and out, picking up medicine and essentials from the pharmacy, helping schedule doctor’s appointments and COVID vaccine appointments, picking up the paper, or helping with Zoom,” Hart added. “I’d wanted to volunteer at Atria Park (an assisted living facility in the Village), but I find most clients live in houses in neighborhoods close by us.”
As for the future of Senior Essentials, Hart shared she hopes her siblings will head the program once she graduates.
“I want to be a doctor some day and help seniors, so my plan is to run this program until I go off to college,” she said. “After that my sister Cassidy will take it over and then maybe Christie after her.”
Senior Essential’s 501(c)(3) status is pending.
For more information about the program, to volunteer or to request services, visit the website at palisenioressentials.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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