Tigard Senior EXPO has become the Amazon of local senior services.
Many seniors don’t know how to navigate the internet to find such resources as health insurance, legal, vision-and-hearing, financial, real estate, independent- and assisted-living, and in-home services.
To counter that problem, a small group of people produced the first Senior EXPO nine years ago; it was held in the King City Clubhouse for the first six years before moving to Calvin Presbyterian Church in Tigard three years ago. Over the years EXPO has grown to include more than 80 vendors along with refreshments, giveaways and entertainment.
Kathy Peper, owner of Tigard-based To Your Door Spa & Salon, has been running EXPO since its inception and has led it through multiple changes and challenges because she believes in its mission – to provide area seniors with information on local, trusted businesses they can turn to when the need arises.
However, one challenge she was not able to overcome was the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that has forced the cancellation of virtually every event this year, including EXPO. But she is optimistic, saying, “We will be back as soon as it is safe, and I’m betting on 2021.”
Peper is the first to admit that she could not have done it all alone. “At every turn in the past nine years, when EXPO got into trouble, supporters came forward and lent a hand,” she said.
“In 2012, I explained to Amy Schmidt, the owner/editor of Retirement Connection, that I was having difficulty handling the managing of the event and the welcome table, and she offered to help by providing staff and working the table to help greet and direct people when they got there.
“In 2015, Ron and Deborah Threadgill of Threadgill Memorial Services stepped forward and provided the support for me to be able to continue producing the event. They also have done most of the networking that attracted vendors to EXPO, so in reality, they are the reason we have such a wide variety of vendors.”
When EXPO outgrew its King City location and Peper was looking for a new one, Ray Beyer, a member of Calvin Presbyterian Church and the former musical director of Northwest Senior Theatre, an EXPO vendor, called her.
“He felt their wonderful church would be the perfect solution,” Peper said. “It has large rooms and lots of parking. It was perfect!”
So Peper had vendors and the facility lined up for the foreseeable future, but then the pandemic hit.
“I didn’t give up hope I would be able to have EXPO until June when it became clear we were in trouble for the long haul,” Peper said. “I wanted to inform the Tigard community but didn’t know how I could say it, so I decided to make an announcement in the Tigard Life community newspaper.
“Within two weeks I sold 10 ads because the vendors wanted to be part of saying they will miss everyone and the event.”
Peper does not take all the community and vendor support lightly.
“I’m grateful to live in the Summerfield community, grateful that King City let me use its clubhouse until we just got too big, grateful to know so many wonderful professionals that offer senior services, and I’m grateful for the friends that I have made creating this wonderful event,” she said.
And several vendors shared their thoughts on EXPO and why they will miss it this year.
Mike Brunt of Home Instead explained, “We’ve participated in EXPO since it started nine years ago. What a great way to connect with people… That personal connection gives them confidence that we will send caregivers they can trust.”
Liz Fisher of Senior Resource Alliance Northwest is in a networking group that Peper belongs to and added, “Navigating resources for seniors is overwhelming. Our network of experienced professionals can help people find the resources they need. We’re sorry we can’t see everyone at Tigard EXPO… ”
Julie Ouellette of NW Senior Resources explained, “I will miss Tigard Senior EXPO because it is a great place to meet potential new clients and share about our services. It is also a wonderful opportunity to network with others who provide services to seniors. We enjoy learning about one another’s offerings as well as staying up-to-date on new technology and ideas.”
Debbie Hartvickson, marketing director at King City Senior Village, said, “Tigard EXPO is the one event I look forward to every year. It is so well attended, giving us all an opportunity to connect with the community, friends and colleagues. Maybe best of all is sharing our Chef Stefan’s pulled pork sliders made from his grandmother’s secret recipe. See you all next year!”
Finally, Amber Garrett of Amber Garrett Insurance, said, “As a long-time vendor of Tigard Senior EXPO, I am disappointed to not be able to see all the familiar faces this year. As a Medicare professional, it is a joy to see my clients each year as well as the community of other professionals that I have built a long-standing relationship with. The industry of supporting seniors in the Tigard area is a small, tight-knit community, and EXPO was a great way for us to meet and learn from each other how to better assist our clients as well as visit with established clients and meet new faces and be a resource for them.
“The priority is to keep everyone safe and healthy, and this takes president over getting together this year. Though EXPO will have to wait until next year, we are all still working very hard to help seniors in any way we can. We are just being more creative, which includes virtual meetings, more time on the phone, email, snail mail and so on. I’m looking forward to the time we can see each other again.”
Vicki Miller, a principal broker at Ken Miller & Associates, hasn’t been an EXPO vendor but sees the value in what it offers, saying, “Although I didn’t have a table in the EXPO last year, I did help Kathy set up the tables. Doing this, I had the pleasure of meeting all of the vendors present, and I was free to roam around the rooms interacting with the seniors who were attending.
“There was a general vibe of excitement and anticipation as people were moving from table to table. All of the vendors had a genuine interest in providing goods and services to the seniors. I think it will continue to be an annual fun and informative event for everyone. It was well-managed and ran very smoothly.”
Peper wants to remind everyone that while EXPO will not take place this September, the vendors are still open for business and eager to help seniors with their needs. “If you need any of the services provided by the advertisers, please consider using one of these wonderful vendors who supported bringing this message to you,” she said.
In addition to the services listed above, other services available at EXPO include moving and downsizing companies, bathroom remodeling, medical supply, elections, hospice, Alzheimer’s, Meals-on-Wheels, medical alarm and non-profits.