Sema Tosun works to help low-income seniors in San Mateo County.
A consummate volunteer, the obvious next step for Sema Tosun was to start her own volunteer organization.
Tosun, who works at First Bank on Fourth Avenue in San Mateo and owns Trapeze restaurant in Burlingame, started Fund A Need just this February to help low-income seniors by providing them with the basic needs to make them happier, more comfortable and more fulfilled for the remaining years of their lives.
“Through the bank and restaurant, I’ve been exposed to local nonprofits and schools,” she said. “I’ve always been very active and involved. I woke up one day and said ‘I’m going to do it.’ My motto is helping low-income seniors one hand at a time.”
Low-income seniors are some of the most underserved right now despite the amount of wealth in this region, she noted.
“There’s so many people that need help,” she said. “Working at a bank, I see a lot of my customers struggle and it made me realize this was an area that needed giving and funding.”
Tosun has supported and volunteered at the Samaritan House, Police Athletics League, HIP Housing, CORA, Boys & Girls Club, CASA & Second Harvest Food Bank.
Having immigrated to the Bay Area at age 7 from Turkey, Tosun had struggles of her own growing up.
“It was scary to learn the language, but I acclimated really quickly because I was young,” she said. “Growing up in another country was scary. Being from Turkey, kids would always say, ‘gobble, gobble’ to me and it was challenging trying to fit in as a kid.”
Her time as a child in Turkey did have effects on her that have affected her views on the elderly today.
“Growing up in Turkey, elders are very much respected for and cared for,” she said. “Here, there are a lot more in homes and it’s something we should bring more awareness to — giving them the dignity, pride and honor they deserve.”
Her single mother, who helped raise Tosun and her two brothers, was also one of her biggest motivations.
“She worked so hard,” she said. “She truly believes in giving back.”
Tosun plans on doing an event at Trapeze soon to celebrate the start of the charity. She notes sometimes nonprofits are intimidated by other nonprofits, but she is happy to work with other ones in the area. To start, she is working with HIP Housing to help the Edgewater Isle Senior Apartments.
To learn more or to become a volunteer for the group, go to funda-need.org.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105