Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

MPTF story

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“The MPTF,” opines Ken Scherer, CEO of the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Foundation, “has been in the care business a long time.”That’s probably an understatement when referring to an organization whose original board of trustees included the likes of William S. Hart and Harold Lloyd.But since those title-card days from the era when D.W. Griffith had just discovered that moving the camera gives you a “close-up,” much has changed, and we don’t just mean the MPTF’s spiffy retirement digs out in the San Fernando Valley’s Woodland Hills—which, from Los Angeles, probably once seemed like halfway to San Francisco—either.No, as Scherer notes, “people are living longer and healthier—and choosing to live in their own homes.” He cites statistics, observing that “12 years ago, the average age” to come “retire” to the MPTF’s bucolic grounds was around 75 years of age. Now, he says, “it’s 87.”The question then, is “what happens between 75 and 87?”Part of the answer to that question came when the foundation “came across” a national charity called Rebuilding Together, which, true to its name, helps rebuild the homes of those in need. Since there was “no sense recreating the wheel,” in Scherer’s words, the MPTF partnered with them to help identify those in the Los Angeles area—those alumni and retirees who’d given their productive years to America’s entertainment juggernaut.One such was 88 year-old Allen Jackson, a member of IA Locals 278 and 99, who’d worked at both the Hal Roach and Republic Studios. Those keeping track of conditions in 21st-century America won’t be surprised to learn he wasn’t doing too well, financially, and while the widower had help, in the form of his live-in granddaughter, he wasn’t able to make, or afford, all the home repairs he needed.And so, one fine February Saturday, members of locals 705, 892, 44, 600, 729, 767, 174, 839, and 33—as well as reps from SAG, MPI, and Time Warner joined folks from IA’s West Coast office, along with MPTF’s own people, to give the Jackson house a one-day makeover.That makeover included interior and exterior paint, new carpeting, new windows, smoke alarm installation, grab bars in the bathroom, yard clean-up, electrical rewiring, and more.Scherer was there, and calls it “one of the better days of my life.”Of his window-installing, pipe-fixing comrades, he notes “these are crafts people,” and adds that with the addition of Jackson’s home they’ve now done—or re-done—four homes, with an eventual goal of “one per month.”How will the group decide which home, then, is each month’s lucky winner? “The IA keeps close tabs on their members,” he states, often noting that active members will speak of recently visiting retirees to check up on them.Local 44, he says, even went so far as to “hire a retiree to help (the local) stay in touch” with others who were similarly “post-career.”But the IA grapevine won’t be the only means: Sometimes physicians can tip off the MPTF to a housebound retiree needing help, he said. “There’ll be a combination of ways.”But those ways do all boil down to means-testing that Scherer says is “pretty much income-based at the moment,” though he doesn’t rule out some eventual work “where people (who can afford it) reimburse us.”Mostly he just worries aloud about those in need that the MPTF might never hear about—speaking of the “loneliness, isolation and depression” that can set in, in old age, when one’s friends and cohorts have all slowly disappeared.A lot of these people, he continues, have kids who’ve moved away, or simply don’t have family.Or, at least didn’t, until the MPTF Fund decided to start showing up to spiff up their houses.

Written by Mark London Williams

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