As a young woman with a master’s degree in social work, neighborhood resident Molly Bogen had her pick of career paths in line with serving a society in need. But Bogen had a special spot in her heart for senior citizens, a population she felt was too neglected. She landed at Dallas nonprofit The Senior Source 30 years ago, and has been working for the wellbeing of older adults ever since.   

Why did you choose this type of work?
There was at the time and still is a huge need for help with seniors. I felt they were neglected. Ever since I was young, they’ve tugged at my heartstrings. There are so many youth-oriented programs and nonprofits out there that focus on kids — a lot of wonderful and much-needed programs. People aren’t quite as eager to help older people.

Why do you think that is?
People have fear of aging and death. Sometimes, unfortunately, that fear trumps sympathy.

And have you had to face difficulties such as losing people you’ve grown close to?
I am a child of older parents, and I have a comfort level with them that a lot of people don’t. We lose people, sure. I’ve attended a lot of funerals. But I wouldn’t let that keep me away from this.

You were awfully young when you started working with these folks more than 30 years ago. How did your clients react to you?
It took some time to earn their trust. I imagine they thought, ‘What could she possibly know about what we’re going through?’

How has the Senior Source changed in the past 30 years?
Dramatically. Starting out small, today we have volunteer and advocacy programs all over East and South Dallas. We have programs that help everyone from the recently retired active person, to those who can’t get around much. There are programs for older people and some very successful programs whose services are provided by the volunteers who are older adults themselves. Now let me point out, this is not because of me! It is thanks to many community groups and volunteers.

What has been your most rewarding achievement?
[Lengthy pause] I think I was most proud about the Nursing Home Ombudsman Program, which allows us to go into nursing homes and investigate claims ranging from abuse issues to people simply not being treated well. Any case of abuse, of course, has to be reported to the authorities. But we also respond to complaints about staff, food, cleanliness, unanswered call buttons and the like.