New executive director will lead fund drive to renovate LO's adult center
by: VERN UYETAKE Malaika Maphalala of West Linn will help the Lake Oswego Adult Center Foundation touch the lives of more folks age 55 and over.

The Lake Oswego Adult Center Foundation has decided to increase its impact on the lives of the many senior citizens in Lake Oswego.

It believes that Malaika Maphalala of West Linn is the person who can help it do it.

It was Maphalala who was brought in as LOACF's first executive director, and her goal is simple.

'The board makes the plan. I execute it,' Maphala said.

'Of all of our candidates, Malaika was the most qualified for the position,' said Douglas Reiter, LOACF board president. 'She has lots of experience with nonprofits, and she is a self-starter.'

Maphalala has gotten off to an auspicious start. She teamed up with Tom Lasley of Providence Health and Services to produce a guest speaker series in May that featured doctors from around the country talking about the health issues that most concern senior citizens.

Maphalala was thrilled with the results.

'The speakers were incredibly informed and rich,' she said. 'It was really phenomenal what they are doing. It's beyond my imagination.'

The speakers series caught the public's attention about the LOACF's new profile in the community, but Maphalala's major task will be acquiring the money to renovate the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

'We're actively working on being the voice for the renovation of the ACC,' Maphalala said. 'The LOACF will be pivotal in getting the ball rolling.'

Actually, a large part of the money for the renovation is already there.

The late Ellouise Minter made a bequest of $1.2 million - shared with the Lake Oswego Public Library - that is being held at the Oregon Community Foundation. The money sat unused for the past several years, but board member and past president Doug Oliphant has campaigned for the Lake Oswego City Council to release some funds from the Minter trust. That transition now appears to be imminent.

'I'm going to be the advocate,' Maphalala said. 'When you go to the ACC, it's tired looking. It's an amazing facility, but it needs polishing to present a more welcoming place for the senior citizens of this community.

'We brought the Minter Fund to the attention of the 50-Plus Commission, and (City Councilor) Donna Jordan responded immediately. She has been a real driver. Now we have an official committee that will determine the priorities and determine the first request for money.

'Depending on the market and how much the fund has earned, we're looking at the release of $50,000 for flooring, lighting, painting and furniture. The foundation will be kicking in $5,000, and I'll be writing a grant for fundraising.'

Obviously, a lot is expected of Maphalala. But she has achieved a lot of results in the past.

Born in South Africa, Maphalala she moved to the United States as a young girl. She proceeded to build a successful career as an innovator in starting nonprofit organizations. She spent 20 years in Hawaii working in rural community development. She later became an investment advisor, specializing in socially responsible investing.

'I became frustrated with running the nonprofit model,' Maphalala said. 'I became drawn to socially responsible business work, which uses the business model to create change. I'm passionate about community work.'

She will be seeking to help a large number of people in Lake Oswego. Maphalala pointed out that two out of five city residents are over age 55, the second highest percentage of elderly people in the region.

Last November, Maphalala and LOACF board members Reiter, Oliphant, Kat Riley, George Gardner, and Wallace Helm began developing a strategy and vision for the organization that will be effective for the next 20 years. Maphalala is very optimistic.

'The LOACF is redefining itself and its place in the community,' Maphalala said. 'They wanted me to be flexible and create the focus as I went. We have some really big goals.

'I've worked with a lot of nonprofit organizations, and this is the most active board I've ever worked with. They really roll up their sleeves and go to work.'

After meeting so many participants at the ACC, Maphalala is more determined than ever to succeed with her mission.

'I've heard so many great stories from the people there,' she said. 'That is why the ACC should be a thriving, healthy center.'

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