Mary C. Pappas is a passionate and exemplary leader and advocate for identifying and resolving the needs of older adults and encouraging senior volunteerism. After a career as a social worker with the San Francisco Department of Public Welfare where she was an eligibility worker and then an appeals specialist (1958 – 1963), she has devoted more than three decades to a combination of professional and volunteer service on behalf of the seniors of San Mateo County. A long-time member of the Advisory Committee of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of San Mateo County she has served from 1993 to 2007 and 2008 to the present.
Her depth of knowledge about senior services in San Mateo County and her willingness to share her expertise and passion have been invaluable to numerous efforts in the County to provide senior services over the past 35 years. Mary played a key role in the writing of the initial proposal that secured funding for both the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs. Her leadership has resulted in opportunities for senior volunteerism that help provide services for the most vulnerable seniors in our community.
During her tenure as a Commissioner with the San Mateo County Commission on Aging (1993-1999 and 2000-2013) she was chair of both the Nutrition Committee and the Community Based Long Term Care Committee and the Commission’s liaison to the Health Plan of San Mateo, the Ombudsman Program and the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County. Mary also served for four years as a Senior Assemblyman to the California Senior Legislature including two terms as Chair of the Bay Area Caucus and was a representative to the first California Conference on Aging. She was the Community Representative to In-Home Support Services Public Authority Advisory Committee (6 years) and the Community Member of Senior Advisory Committee for the City of San Mateo (4 years).
In 1988, she was the first Administrator for HICAP of San Mateo County and was responsible for recruiting and training volunteers to provide health insurance counseling for seniors and those eligible for Medicare. She served in this capacity until 1993 and was asked to return in 2003. As a Program Specialist, she trained and supervised volunteers until 2008 and continues to serve as a volunteer counselor with the program today, where she specializes in Long Term Care Insurance.
Clearly at the forefront of numerous pivotal strides in serving the senior community, Mary became the Administrator of Greenhills in 1985, the first Senior Residence in the County that provided full services without an accommodation fee. She oversaw the construction and marketing of this 160-unit residential complex for seniors able to care for themselves. Prior to that effort, Mary was the Senior Services Coordinator at Catholic Social Service in 1980, supervising paid staff and volunteers and providing case management. During this time she authored the first manual for Information and Referral workers in San Mateo County.
As the Senior Community Representative for the City of San Carlos (1973-1978), Mary provided information and referral and other supportive services for the city and it was the survey that she developed and implemented that obtained data critical to securing funding for the San Carlos Senior Center, dedicated in 1982.
An active member of her church, Mary served on the Parish Council for 4 years, and was a member of the Philoptochos and Chair of the Benevolence Committee. She created a Greek Dance Program for the children of the Parish and co-founded a senior social group named ORA, which celebrated its 29th anniversary, and of which she is currently a member.
Mary Pappas’ dedication to the community, commitment to “do what is right”, and unflagging energy even today when she is in her 80’s, serves as a model for us all.