Supporting Senior Health: Major Grant Expands Fall Prevention Efforts to Greater Monterey Bay Region

Volunteer Center’s Empowered Aging Division Receives Grant from Central California Alliance for Health to Support Falls Prevention Program

Santa Cruz, CA, June 13, 2024 —The Volunteer Center’s Empowered Aging Division recently received a significant grant from the Central California Alliance for Health (CCAH) to support the expansion of its evidence-based falls prevention program, A Matter of Balance. This expansion will enable the program to offer the no-cost classes in Spanish, and in underserved areas such as Pajaro Valley and San Benito County.

a group of seniors celebrate in a classroom

Funded through the CCAH’s Partners for Active Living Program, which increases access to opportunities for community-based physical activity for the Medi-Cal population in the Alliance service areas, the project will increase Medi-Cal member access to opportunities for physical activity and recreation in the community by partnering directly with Health Educators at CCAH to provide critical falls prevention training to low-income and isolated older adults. 

A Matter of Balance is an award-winning program created by the National Council on Aging, designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults. The program emphasizes practical strategies to manage falls, addressing fear of falling, setting goals for increasing activity, making changes to reduce fall risks at home, and promoting exercises to increase strength and balance. Falls prevention training is crucial in helping older adults live active, independent lives while staying connected to their community.

The grant will enable the Volunteer Center to partner with Health Educators at CCAH to provide A Matter of Balance class dates and locations to Medi-Cal members. The program aims to form life-long healthy habits that support mental and physical health and overall well-being. This initiative is particularly focused on reducing racial and other inequities by offering the classes at no cost, with bilingual and mono-lingual Spanish options, and in locations most accessible for older adults, including San Benito County, where such cost-free services are currently unavailable.

Tara Ireland, Empowered Aging Director at the Volunteer Center, expressed her enthusiasm for the program’s expansion: “We are committed to enhancing the quality of life for our older adults. This grant allows us to bring critical fall prevention services to underserved communities, empowering seniors to live healthier, more active lives.”

Each program includes 4 weeks of classes. Classes are held twice a week and are two hours long. Refreshments and a training manual are provided. Upon completion of the program, participants will have access to additional services, such as free grab bar installation.

The first two programs funded by this grant are set to start in July. 

1. Santa Cruz, Seabright Neighborhood

July 1 – July 24, 2024
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:00 AM 12:00 PM
Location: To be provided upon enrollment

2. Watsonville

July 23 August 14, 2024
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1:00 PM 3:00 PM
Location: Community Health Trust of Pajaro, 85 Nielson St, Watsonville, CA 95076
Bilingual or mono-lingual classes will be offered based on attendee need.

For more information about the A Matter of Balance program and to register for upcoming classes, please contact Bridget Walcott by phone 831-427-5070 x118, or email

About the Volunteer Center’s Empowered Aging Division:

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County (VCSCC) has been connecting individuals, organizations and businesses for good since 1967. The Empowered Aging Division, one of 19 programs offered to meet community need, dedicated to supporting the well-being and independence of older adults through a variety of services. By fostering community connections and providing essential resources, the division aims to enhance the quality of life for seniors in Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. For more information, visit and find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.