Living Longer, Living Stronger, Living Safer!

"The SOWEGA Council on Aging is committed to providing, developing, and coordinating services for people 60 years of age or older in the 14 county area of Southeast Georgia."

Free Tax Prep Program Sponsored by RSVP Program


Empty Bowls 2015 - a sold out event


Tai Chi for Arthritis, an Evidence Based Program


RSVP Volunteers build ramp for injured teenager


Empty Bowls 2015 - Serving Up Awareness


This event benefits Empty Bowls, a collaboration with the Albany Area Arts Council. REGISTER on the EVENTS tab.


Santa for Seniors 2014


Last minute assistance available for Medicare Open Enrollment


SOWEGA Council on Aging builds raised bed garden for seniors


Call the SOWEGA Council on Aging to make an appointment to review your Medicare plan. Open Enrollment is October 15 - December 7.


SOWEGA Council on Aging Serves More People


Albany Herald article - Carlton Fletcher: Area senior citizens add to graying work force


SOWEGA Council on Aging hosted Open House - over 150 people attended seeking information and resources on Aging & Disability


On Nov 6, 2014, the C.O.P.E (Community Outreach Programs and Education) held a lunch & learn at the SOWEGA Council on Aging.


That's A Wrap! Lunch & Learn a HUGE success!


The SOWEGA Council on Aging receives $1 million Capital Grant from Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation


"The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Ballroom" dedication will be on Thursday, September 18 at 11:00am at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center. Join us to hear more...


The Division of Aging is interested in receiving input from Southwest Georgia.


This 6-week course provides important information to Caregivers, register NOW for September.


Bank of America donates to Meals on Wheels program


Buy tickets on EVENTS tab.


Ladies of all ages can get dressed up and enjoy high tea. Tickets on sale now at 335 W. Society Avenue in Albany. $10 per person, benefiting our seniors!


Meeting to be held at the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany. Learn about important legislative updates concerning seniors.


Purchase tickets for Dinner & Dancing on the EVENTS TAB. Join us in celebrating the Grand Opening of the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany.


Basic Computer Class - Register NOW...seating is limited!


Do you have concerns about falling? Find answers at the next class...register NOW!


Empty Bowls Raises Awareness


See the "Publications" page for updated agency information


2013 Annual Meeting


Budget Cuts, Sequestration, Programs, and New Senior Life Enrichment Center Updates


Register now for the 2013 Caregiver Lunch & Learn Seminar


Enhancing the health of GOLDEN rams in their GOLDEN years! Don't miss out on this important information.


Tod Allen Herendeen show to benefit Council on Aging


Registration is now open for the "Serving Up Meals" tennis tournament


Albany City Leaders Unanimously Approve $300,000 SPLOST for Senior Center


Seniors concerned about losing Meals on Wheels program and more.


Coach Jesse Massey gives back to COA and community


Massey Supports Senior Life Enrichment Center


A Gift That Travels A Long Way


Darden Restaurants support Meals on Wheels


8th Annual Comedy Night Raises Funds for Meals on Wheels


SOWEGA Council on Aging Faces Major Budget Cuts


Humor Raises Money for Serious Needs


Sweet Potatoes Fashion Show Benefits Meals on Wheels! Show your support for this local business on August 3rd 12-4pm at the Hilton Garden Inn.


Chronic Disease Self Management Program...valuable information that can change your life!


This 6-week course provides a "tool Kit" for Caregivers


COPE shares important healthcare information with seniors!


8th Annual Comedy Night is August 15th with Dr. Dennis Swanberg - Tickets available NOW!


Kay Hind Receives Lifetime Achievement Award


City Officials and Board of Directors tour construction site


Medicare Diabetes Prevention Screenings are FREE!


Congratulations Charlie Phillips - and Thank You!


Juleps, Jockeys and Jazz 2013 a success!


Programs Face Big Budget Cuts


Phoebe Community Visions helps fund "A Matter of Balance" - fall prevention program


GoDirect deadline March 1, 2013


Tax Preparation ongoing through April 15


Thank you Shane Kelley and Monsanto Fund!


Dr. Grant Speaks at Senior Center


Thank you to all generous Potters, Restaurants, Schools, and Volunteers. We appreciate the community for embracing "Empty Bowls" and the 400 ticket holders that brought the event to life!


It's Time for the 2nd Annual Empty Bowls


We appreciate all who attended the Public Hearings. Your input is extremely valuable to our organization!


2012 Annual Meeting


Thank you to everyone who participated in the success of Empty Bowls 2013!


Nov. 8, 2012 - Family Caregiver Program - Lunch & Learn


The SOWEGA Council on Aging breaks ground on the Albany Senior Life Enrichment Center. October 18, 2012


100 people came to this seminar and learned how to protect, detect and report abuse and financial exploitation.


Seniors display art at Shades of Gold Art Show, June 7, 2012


Comedy Night a success!


2012 Martha Eaves Advocating for Positive Change Award





Date Posted: January 26, 2015
Free Tax Prep Program Sponsored by RSVP Program

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -For the 29th year in a row, the SOWEGA Council On Aging will offer free tax preparation help for seniors, but you need to sign up soon.

The IRS and the Retired Citizens Volunteer Program are sponsoring the program.

Last year they helped 600 people.

Specialists say this year's tax returns have changes that many people could have questions about.

"The law is changed. You may not have needed to come last year but will this year. We have a new ruled this year that you've got to prove you have insurance," said Tax Aid Coordinator Laura McKinney.

You can call 432-1124 to make an appointment.

Volunteers will prepare tax returns from February 2nd to April 14th on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 to 3.


Date Posted: January 21, 2015
Empty Bowls 2015 - a sold out event

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -Today is the 4th annual Empty Bowls, an event that supports two major organizations in Albany, the southwest Georgia Council on Aging and the Albany Area Arts Council.

"They do art and we help seniors and so on the outside it looks like we would have nothing in common," Development Director of SWEGA Council on Aging Izzie Sadler said. "But how we can come together and have such a great event that includes the whole community to me is a real sweet part."

The fundraiser allows local artists to show off their talents by handcrafting special pottery. Over 400 bowls will hit the tables this morning, part of the money collected will go toward keeping the art center thriving. And the rest will support meals on wheels, a popular program with the council on aging.

"We deliver over 187 thousand meals a year in southwest Georgia," Sadler said.

Organizers say the event has been a success every year.

"Well, I always love watching everyone coming in and their eyes when they see the handmade pottery," Sadler continued. "And they just look everything over real quick and try to see which piece they want and they have a hard time choosing because they're all so beautiful"

Each person who buys a bowl also gets treated to a special lunch. Those involved believe this helps tie the community together.

"The restaurants coming in and providing food year after year, the artists providing the pottery, these are hand made pieces of art that they make all year long thinking about this event," Sadler said.

It's an opportunity for neighbors to fill up on good food and good company.

Tickets for the event have been sold out, those who reserved a spot are asked to arrive at 11 A.M. at the Albany Civic Center.


Date Posted: January 15, 2015
Tai Chi for Arthritis, an Evidence Based Program


Date Posted: January 14, 2015
RSVP Volunteers build ramp for injured teenager


When ramp coordinator Jim Hill saw a work request over Christmas break, he couldn't wait to get back to work.

"We had planned on being off a little longer," Hill said. "But when I got the request for this particular ramp for Hannah. I called the team, and everybody jumped and said let's do it. Let's get it done."

The retired senior volunteer program or RSVP, sponsored by SOWEGA council on aging, usually builds ramps for seniors who use wheelchairs.

But Hill said helping children is particularly special.

"Everyone is special that's wheelchair bound, needs a ramp to get out of their house. But it's just something there. a little extra when it's a child.'

Croker's grandmother, Gail Thompson, has been back and forth between the hospital in Atlanta and Hannah's house, overseeing all the necessary renovations.

"We've had a group out here the weekend ripping carpet out, because she can't be around carpet and everything," Thompson said. "And now we're waiting on the people to come in and check, measure the floor and all for the linoleum tile and stuff. And, get the bathroom renovated so she can get in there. And it's just, all volunteers. team Hannah members and just, great support."

Every single piece of wood used to build this 56 foot ramp was donated. And the crew who built it was happy to help.

"I have seen it. When we've finished, and the child comes down the ramp. You'll see, how ever many pairs of eyes that are looking, with tears in them. It gets us, it really does."


Date Posted: January 12, 2015
Serving up Awareness

ALBANY — Continuing an event that raises awareness of hunger and of the Albany area’s artistic community, the fourth annual Empty Bowls event has established a momentum of its own well before the first bowl was set to be handed out.

The event is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Albany Civic Center at 100 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. A joint outreach effort by the Albany Area Arts Council and SOWEGA Council on Aging, it is meant to be a personalized way by artists on a community level to help the cause of hunger awareness with the assistance of various restaurants and culinary experts throughout the community.

“We partner with the art council, who makes the bowls,” said Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging. “We reach out to restaurants and they provide the soup.

“It is a drop in event, so you don’t have to come in right at 11 a.m. People buy a ticket, they come and choose a piece of pottery. We wrap it up and they go enjoy lunch.”

Along with the soup, bread and crackers are among the items served. The proceeds will be split between the two agencies, with SOWEGA using its half for Meals on Wheels, and the arts council using its half to sponsor special events such as opening receptions for artists exhibiting their work at the council.

“Area restaurants get recognized, and more recognition is brought to artists,” Sadler said.

The tickets are being sold at $20 each, with 400 bowls at the event. As of Tuesday, there were roughly 80 tickets remaining. The tickets typically sell out prior to the event, so officials do not anticipate selling tickets at the door.

Sadler said that Elements Coffee, Olde World Sandwich Shoppe, Cookie Shoppe, Wild Flour Cafe, Red Lobster, Hilton Garden Inn, Our Daily Bread, the culinary programs at Albany Technical College and Westover High School, Lemon Grass, Moe’s, Southern Elegance Catering, Merry Acres Event Center, Doublegate Country Club, Riverfront BBQ, BJ’s Country Buffet, Sonny’s BBQ, Henry’s Fine Edibles, Willis Country Home Bed and Breakfast and the Meals on Wheels kitchen will be the entities providing food at the event.

In addition, Harvey’s provided a gift card for the purchase of the extra materials needed for the event.

“It is a fundraiser, but it is mostly to raise awareness for both causes … and the community really rallying around both causes,” Sadler said.

Last year’s Empty Bowls was held at the Council on Aging’s new Senior Life Enrichment Center, but it was moved back to the civic center to provide more space. The primary limitation is the number of bowls that can be made available, but the event has grown over the years.

“We are just pleased to have the 400 and the recurring support of our potters,” Sadler said. “Their commitment is outstanding, and we are appreciative of that.”

Nicole Williams, in her first year as executive director at the arts council, is learning about the Empty Bowls event as she goes along — but has caught on to the passion involved for the artists.

“For us, it is about raising awareness on hunger but also promoting the artist,” Williams said. “It is a way of getting our work out into the community in a way the community recognizes. It has become an event the community feels ownership for.

“Our job is to serve the community and support arts and culture. We need the community to be engaged.”

The bulk of the artwork involved comes from a few of the council’s regular artists, as well as from Stacy Porter Brown at The Clay Spot.

“She (Brown) donates lots of bowls for the event herself, and she runs a special at The Clay Spot for anyone interested in painting a bowl to be donated for Empty Bowls,” Williams said.

The other potters include Kirby Gregory, Scott Marini, Cindy Gravois, Walter Hobbs, Diane Mead, Jim Mitchell, Ann Eason, Beth Wietz, Joann Carr, Mike White, David Griffin and assorted potters from Albany State University, Darton State College and Valdosta State University’s Ceramics Departments as well as David Britt Studios in Columbus.

Gregory, Marini and Gravois are board members for the arts council.

“It’s a lot to ask people to give away their artwork,” Williams said. “The potters really get into it, so we are glad to support the cause.”

There was a high volume of bowls coming from Americus for prior Empty Bowls events. While participation from that area has waned since it has established a similar event of its own, Williams said there is not a shortage of people willing to give — it’s just a matter of finding them.

“I hope the event goes well, but I know it will go well,” Williams said. “It has gained it’s own momentum … I’m so excited to see how it goes.”

Tickets are available at the Albany Area Arts Council, located at 215 N. Jackson St., and at the SOWEGA Kay Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. The arts council can be contacted at (229) 439-2787, and the Council on Aging is reachable at (229) 432-1124.


Date Posted: December 16, 2014
Learn special painting techniques with Stacie Brown, owner and artist at The Clay Spot

Register for this event on the EVENTS tab.


Date Posted: December 02, 2014
Dougherty County Rotary Club delivers gifts to seniors


The Rotary Club of Dougherty County is spreading Christmas cheer a little early.

On Tuesday, members of the club participated in the 5th annual Santa for Seniors.

This year the club raised $1500 to buy Christmas gifts to clients of the SOWEGA Council on Aging who may not normally get a gift.

Executive Director of SOWEGA Council on Aging says, "Just because you're older doesn't mean you don't want a gift to open on Christmas."



Date Posted: December 03, 2014
Call (229) 432-1124 to make your appointment for Dec 6 or 7.


Date Posted: December 02, 2014
SOWEGA Council on Aging builds raised bed garden for seniors

A new neighborhood garden is being built with the help of volunteers at SOWEGA Council on Aging's new facility.

Raised boxes are being put in to make it more convenient for seniors to grow vegetables, plants and flowers, along with an irrigation system.

The Council is hoping this will be a place for the community to come together and work together, in a place to build relationships while growing healthy food that the community and members of the senior center can enjoy.

SOWEGA says they are also hoping to partner with children's groups like the boys and girls club to increase socialization for the seniors and the kids while gardening together.

"Number one we want to get the seniors out and active but along with that activity they will be growing their own produce which will offer them more nutritious benefits," said Wellness Coordinator Erin Willingham.

They will start planting vegetables next week.


Date Posted: October 06, 2014
The SOWEGA Council on Aging is taking appointments for Medicare Open Enrollment (October 15 - December 7)


An Albany group is making sure folks who need to enroll for medicare are informed.

Open enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging has staff and trained volunteers to help those 65 and older enroll or change their plan.

Picking a plan can be overwhelming. "We help them select the very best plan for them. The one that covers their needs and has the most reseaonable costs. So it's a very valuable program," said Kay Hind, the Executive Director for the SOWEGA Council on Aging.

"We are very knowledgeable, we are trained. We are aware of all the updates so we can tell them those things personally," said Brian Ramey, the coordinator of Georgia Cares program for SOWEGA Council on Aging.

The help is free, but you should make a reservation. Call 229-432-1124, extension 183 to make an appointment.


Date Posted: November 24, 2014
SOWEGA Council on Aging presents 2014 Annual Report



ALBANY HERALD—  Jennifer Parks


The opening of the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center has opened up many opportunities for the SOWEGA Council on Aging to expand on the services they provide, officials with the agency said in their annual report. The Council on Aging plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for all people ages 60 and over in a 14county area of Southwest Georgia. Division of Aging Services has the elderly population of the region at 67,369, with nearly 25 percent of that population living in Dougherty County.

The Senior Life Enrichment Center, which opened its doors on West Society Avenue in January, is a 45,000 squarefoot facility. Serving as the senior center for Dougherty County to its 16,527 elderly, and the community as a whole, the center provides a fitness room, craft rooms, a computer lab, a ballroom set to accommodate 250 people, fellowship rooms, meeting rooms, a kitchen and catering area, among other things. The larger space, over the last several months, has allowed for expansion in all the programs SOWEGA offers, whether they be nutrition, wellness or educationrelated.

“It has been a big year with the building (and we have been able to) serve so many people since being in the building,” said Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging. Officials say the building has allowed for expansion in services not just in space, but also in increased funding for programs even with budget cuts. “We rent out the facility (for weekend events), and we use the income to put in the programs,” Sadler said.

Figures available from the agency’s most recent annual report shows that the Adult Day Care program, a respite care program for those whose family members suffer from some form of dementia, provided 20,335 service hours in Fiscal Year 2014 — while there was 5,000 hours put into inhome respite care. At the same time, 812 Southwest Georgians were served through the Community Care Services Program, which is provided for Medicaideligible individuals as an alternative to nursing home placement. As part of the elder abuse prevention efforts during the year, there were 178 routine visits to nursing homes and 416 routine visits to personal care homes. The Senior Community Service Employment Program provided 1,275 service hours to the elderly, while the Elderly Legal Services Program managed 161 cases. More than 800 clients were served through Meals on Wheels, and 133 were served through Homemaker Services, the report said.

Jay Montgomery, Deborah Clemmons and Donna Gray have been added as members of the agency’s board. The officers from the previous year are maintaining their positions.


Date Posted: November 17, 2014
Statistics show number of senior citizens in work force is increasing

ALBANY HERALD - Carlton Fletcher

— According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the graying of the American work force that really kicked in at the turn of the century is going to continue unabated well into the future.

A recent report by the bureau projects that by the year 2022, 31.9 percent of Americans ages 65-74 will still be working. That’s up from 26.8 percent in 2012.

Further, a report by the Georgia Department of Labor projects that by 2016, fully one-third of the country’s work force will be 50 or older.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Kay Hind, the executive director of the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging, said after hearing the statistics. “I’ve always found senior workers to be dependable, with a good work ethic and a commitment you don’t see in some younger workers. I hire a lot of seniors for work at the Council on Aging because they’re best-suited for the things we do.”

Indeed, a study by the Pew Research Center offers a number of reasons seniors are becoming an increasingly more dynamic part of the country’s work force and why employers are more apt to hire them now than they would have been two decades ago.

The study shows that while senior workers are staying longer at their jobs, at the other end of the spectrum younger workers are taking longer to join the work force. With employment opportunities now built around rapidly expanding technology and a growing number of jobs requiring more advanced skill sets, more young adults are getting some level of post-secondary education and are staying in college longer to get advanced degrees.

Vesta Fletcher said she plans to work as long as she can, and she’s added a decorative touch to daughter B.J. Fletcher’s BJ’s Country Buffet restaurant. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Pew says seniors are remaining at their jobs because of an overall decline in the economy, the reduction of benefits afforded seniors when they retire, an increasing number of women in the work force and the improving health of the senior population.

“I’ve been fortunate that the Lord has blessed me with good health pretty much all my life,” Vesta Fletcher, who pulls a regular shift at daughter B.J. Fletcher’s BJ’s Country Buffet restaurant, said. “I’ve had a few things over the years, but I still have the energy to go to work.

“The way I look at it, going to work gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I’ve worked all my life, and if I didn’t have a job to go to, I’d have to find something else to do. What else am I going to do?”

Research also shows that employers are taking a closer look at senior workers because they have a stronger work ethic, have skills that many younger workers have not developed, they’re less likely to increase job turnover because they’re more settled and they have more flexibility than their younger counterparts.

Anna Choi has exhibited just those characteristics in her 40-plus years as co-owner/manager of Albany’s House of China restaurants. She’s a dynamic presence still at House of China II, along with son Mike Choi.

“If I’m here, I know the details will be looked after,” Anna Choi said of her long-time presence at the eatery. “Otherwise it would be too much for my son to do alone. Coming to work makes me feel younger, keeps me healthier. It takes energy to keep things running even in the tough economic times.

“Coming to work also makes life not too boring. I’ve served four generations of people at the restaurant, and they’ve become more than customers to me. They are like friends, and I want to make sure they get the best food.”

Vesta Fletcher shows off the “little library” in front of Albany restaurant BJ’s Country Buffet. The library stands as a tribute to Fletcher’s late daughter, Robin Elmore. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Like a growing number of senior citizens who have found retirement not so much to their liking, Frank Wilson decided to rejoin the work force when he was offered the opportunity to direct activities at the Albany Civil Rights Institute.

“This job was an opportunity to make a difference in the community that appealed to me because I absolutely knew I still had something to offer,” Wilson said. “Plus, there’s only so much ‘Matlock’ and ‘Heat of the Night’ you can watch on TV.

“I’ve gotten older, yes, but I still have a lot of ideas, a lot of things going on in my head. This position gives me somewhere to put those ideas into practice. The fact that I’m a history major and, essentially, the message of the Civil Rights Institute is my life, I have the perfect place to direct my interests and my energy.”

Hind, who is herself well past “retirement age,” says she’d be bored without the challenges that directing the SOWEGA Council on Aging presents. That, she says, keeps her engaged and, in her mind, keeps her young.

“There’s something new here every day,” she said. “It may be good or bad, but you don’t know when you come to work every day what’s going to happen. I feel like if I don’t go in, I’m going to miss something.”

The council takes part in a state-sponsored Senior Community Service Employment Program initiative that offers basic job training for persons 55 and over. While involved in the program, participants are actually paid a minimum-wage stipend, but the ultimate goal is to find permanent employment for them.

“A lot of folks who have gone through the program have found full-time work,” Hind said. “That’s one of the reason those stats you mentioned are not surprising.”

Like many seniors who have remained a part of the work force, Fletcher says the desire to continue working was ingrained in her long ago.

“My dad always worked three jobs, and we had a little farm,” she said. “We always worked from the time we were old enough to help out. I could pick cotton all day, although I didn’t weigh in a lot at the end of the day.

“I’ve worked all my life, and I thank God that He’s allowed me to be able. I like to watch Westerns on TV and go with my oldest daughter Judy to a casino in Wetumpka for a little fun. But, basically, I enjoy going to work. I don’t think God really intended for us to retire.”

Choi said there is a cultural element to her work ethic.

“In China, it is always better to keep going,” she said.

Wilson, who has been at the ACRI for 15 months and has shown no signs of slowing down, said he’s put together a list of long-range goals that he wants to accomplish before he steps down.

“I haven’t discovered that this is a job yet,” he said. “I’m having too much fun. We open the museum at 10, but I’m usually here at 8, 8:30 every day. I can’t wait to start working on my next idea.

“There’s some truth in that old saying about youth being wasted on the young. I think it’s important that we preserve the history of the Civil Rights movement and make this facility a beacon in the area. Who has time for retirement? It’s way overrated.”


Date Posted: November 14, 2014
SOWEGA Council on Aging hosted Open House - over 150 people attended seeking information and resources on Aging & Disability


Date Posted: November 06, 2014
On Nov. 6, 2014, the C.O.P.E (Community Outreach Programs and Education) held a lunch & learn at the SOWEGA Council on Aging.


Date Posted: November 05, 2014
Tickets sold out in a matter of hours for this popular lunch & learn event. Derrell Humphries teaches seniors tips on how to gift wrap for all occasions.


Date Posted: September 18, 2014
Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation donates $1 million to SOWEGA Council on Aging

ALBANY HERALD - Mary Braswell

ALBANY —The SOWEGA Council on Aging didn’t underplay its promise of “big news” Thursday at the dedication of its ballroom Thursday, named for Harry and Jeanette Weinberg. The Council announced it had received a $1 million grant from the Weinbergs’ foundation.

The grant, which council officials say is the largest the organization has received from a private foundation, was first reported at

Izzie Sadler, development director for the SOWEGA Council on Aging, wrote the grant that brought $1 million to the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center. (Staff photo: Mary Braswell)

“This is an exciting day and I am excited,” SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind told the group that assembled at 11 a.m. outside the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Ballroom. “In fact, I’ve already done this. I dreamed about it last night.

“You may not know Harry and Jeanette Weinberg, but they are very special people and they have a foundation. And their mission is much like ours, to serve older people, needy people, other people, and make a real difference in their lives and in the community. And toward that end — and this is my big announcement — they have granted us $1 million.”

Hind said the grant will go a long way toward enabling the council to continue its work on behalf of the elderly in Southwest Georgia.

“Obviously, this size grant is just unbelievable and it will help us to sustain this program into the future,” Hind said. “You know, this property here is valued at approximately $9 million and their million will go toward that construction. And I’m really proud to announce that of that, we have paid off all but $1 million and we are in the process of getting long-term financing. And we are confident — the board and the advisory committee, the administrative staff — that we can pay those payments and go on and on and on with this wonderful place.”

Hind thanked those who had supported the realization of the Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. that bears her name, noting the organization has had the support of local residents, local and state governments, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, which purchased the land and donated to the council. She said she didn’t want to leave anyone out.

“Whoever you are, if you gave us $5 toward the program, we thank you,” she said, before drawing a laugh with: “If you gave us $1 million, we really thank you.”

Hind said the realization of the grant had been largely through the hard work of the council’s development director, Izzie Sadler. Sadler said she searched the Internet two years ago looking for the top foundations that supported programs similar to the Council on Aging’s. As her research continued and she made inquiries of those that seemed to fit the council’s operations, the list winnowed down. She focused on the Weinberg Foundation, a 55-year-old private foundation with more than $2 billion in assets that annually distributes about $100 million in grants. Of its grants, 30 percent go to programs, services and capital expense projects that serve the elderly, a factor that matched up well with the SOWEGA Council’s mission.

While the $1 million is a capital grant, foundation officials were concerned about specific issues. First, Sadler said, the council had to show it served the elderly, poor and frail. Second, it had to show it addressed basic needs. Finally, the council had to show how its program could influence elderly support in other places across America.

When foundation officials had difficulty finding time for an on-site inspection of the council’s facilities, Sadler turned to technology to show where the Council on Aging was, how it did its work and where it had been. She used Google Earth to create a video showing the five locations where the council had been spread out before coming to the Senior Enrichment Center that opened in November. For the tour of the current facility, Weinberg Foundation officials suggested she use live video streaming to give them a virtual tour.

“I think it’s (the Hind Center) a beautiful representation of how we feel about seniors,” Sadler said. “The old USO building we were in was a great place to meet, but it wasn’t a place to grow. And this is a place to grow and a place for people to come and to be happy.

“We all think seniors deserve a beautiful place to come to, a place to be with friends, a place to learn, a place to enjoy a warm meal and a place to live with dignity.”

The vision Hind had nearly a half-century ago has placed Southwest Georgia on the forefront of elderly services, she said.

“I have to say the 46 years of work that the SOWEGA Council on Aging has done in this community is what built the groundwork for all these innovative ideas and programs to emerge. … Now we’ve got a center that’s different, that’s innovative that other cities — across the world, really — can look at and learn from it and how we should treat seniors.”

In her opening remarks, Lori Farkas, president of the SOWEGA Council on Aging Board, reiterated Hind’s role in the facility coming into existence.

“This wonderful facility began as a light of one small candle in the heart of Kay Hind many years ago,” Farkas said. “As she kindled that flickering idea, it grew and became a bonfire in the hearts and the minds of her staff and her board of directors, city leaders and state leaders, and even leaders on a national level.”

Since its opening in November, she said, “It’s been a glowing success.”

According to the foundation’s website, Harry Weinberg’s parents, Joseph and Sarah Weinberg, left their home in Sambor in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1911 to emigrate to the United States. (Sambor is now known as the Ukrainian city of Sambir.)

While the family had modest means, Harry Weinberg, who was 3 when they arrived in the U.S., was at age 10 selling souvenirs to parade-goers in Baltimore, Md., who were celebrating the end of World War I. For several years, he worked in his father’s body-and-fender shop, but foundation officials said he was eager to strike out on his own, leaving home in his teens to seek his fortune.

Though he had just a sixth-grade education, in the 1950s-60s, he headed a diverse intra-urban transportation empire, owning mass transit bus lines in New York, Scranton, Dallas and Honolulu. He accumulated an even larger fortune in securities and real estate. Known for helping many German Jews who came to America in the 1930s, in 1959 he created The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation as his long-term vehicle for consistent charitable activity that would continue long into the future.

Harry Weinberg died on Nov. 4, 1990, a little more than a year after his wife, Jeanette, passed away. At the time of his death, he was the largest single real estate investor in the state of Hawaii.


Date Posted: September 12, 2014
Join us for "The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Ballroom" dedication


Date Posted: September 03, 2014
Join us on September 9, 2:00-4:00pm. The Division of Aging is interested in receiving input from older adults, persons with disabilities, family caregivers, agencies and advocacy groups serving these individuals, and other interested parties.


Date Posted: August 25, 2014
This 6-week course provides important information to Caregivers, register NOW for September.

Instructors:  Denise Robinson and Cynthia Wade

September 23, 2014 – October 28, 2014 (every Tues. for 6 weeks)

Time:  11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Location:  Senior Life Enrichment Center, Magnolia Room 3rd Floor

335 W. Society Ave., Albany


Date Posted: August 13, 2014
Bank of America donates to Meals on Wheels program



The SOWEGA Council on Aging got a big helping hand for its meals on wheels program.

Bank of America presented a check for $2,500 to Meals on Wheels Monday.

Meals on Wheels serves more than 186,000 meals per year in 14 counties in southwest Georgia.

Many elderly neighbors rely on Meals on Wheels for a hot meal.

Annie Flanigan has been volunteering with meals on wheels since 2001.

"I just enjoy doing things for others," she said. "If we carry 'em something extra like a piece of cake they really enjoy that and tell us how happy they are that we brought it to them."

Albany residents on the route say the volunteers make things even better.

"Oh I enjoy it very much and everybody is real friendly they be on time I don't have to worry about a meal," said Brenda Thomas.

Kathy Turner says Meals on Wheels has touched her personally as a blessing for her mother.

"The volunteers go above and beyond because she always has things to tell me about when they deliver," said Turner. I know for a lot of others it may be the only people they see all day. It really is a phenomenal organization."

Turner was delighted to be part of giving back by giving the SOWEGA Council on Aging a check for it's meals on wheels program.

"We're delighted to have this donation and we'll use it to provide more meals," said Kay Hind with the Council.


Date Posted: May 05, 2014


Date Posted: April 25, 2014
Ladies of all ages can enjoy high tea. $10 per person, benefits our seniors!


Date Posted: April 14, 2014
Meeting to be held at the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany. Learn about important legislative updates concerning seniors.


Date Posted: March 20, 2014
Join us in celebrating the Grand Opening of the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany


Date Posted: March 11, 2014
Learn the basics of using a computer


Date Posted: March 11, 2014
Do you have concerns about falling? Find answers here...


Date Posted: January 27, 2014
Tickets sold out and over 400 people showed up for Empty Bowls 2014!

Now in its third year, Empty Bowls has enjoyed great success in the community, bringing people from all walks of life together for an afternoon of food, fun and fellowship, while raising funds for a worthy cause.

Representatives from Albany Techinical College serve hungry guests Monday at Empty Bowls at the SOWEGA Council on Aging. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

Guests also were treated to an inside look at the SOWEGA Council of Aging’s brand-new center at 335 W. Society Ave.

With ticket admission, attendees received lunch and their choice of a one-of-kind bowl made by a local artist.

But to get first pickings, it’s best to be early.

“The event started at 11:30 a.m., but I got here shortly after 11,” said Kiki Hall, who was attending her first Empty Bowls event. “The line was already well-established when I got here.”

That line was established by regular attendees Paula Long and Judy Rainey, the first two people in line at 10:45 a.m.

Hundreds enjoy an afternoon of fellowship and food at Empty Bowls. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

“This is a wonderful event – I just love it,” said Long. “And it is for such a good cause.”

As guests contemplated which particular bowls might best match the décor of their homes, a “Soup du Jour” menu displayed a preview of soup options available in the main reception area.

After choosing their bowls, guests had their items wrapped and bagged before continuing inside for a fresh, hot lunch. Surrounding the room were a variety of options from local caterers, schools and restaurants, all giving service with a smile.

“The soups are always so delicious,” Long noted. “The only problem is that you fill up faster than you can eat – I wish I could try them all.”

For those who had trouble deciding, samples were available for taste-testing before making a final decision.

Along with supporting a good cause, participation in Empty Bowls provides an opportunity for restaurants and chefs in the community to advertise their wares and promote menu items.

For Albany Technical College’s Culinary Arts Program, the event also presents a great platform for teaching.

“We teach and demonstrate every step of making the soup for the students,” said Todd White, ATC department chair of culinary arts.

“From the prep work, to slicing vegetables, to making a roux – with every stage of cooking, we are able to help our students get valuable experience with practicing their skills.”

ATC’s potato leek soup with fresh toppings was suitable to a variety of taste buds.

“We’ve arranged it so whether you prefer meat in your soup or not, you can fix it to your preference,” said senior Wesley Higdon. “We have the base of the soup prepared, and then people can add whatever toppings they like.”

For Higdon, Empty Bowls provided educational experience as well as an excellent opportunity for networking and speaking with future potential employers.

“It’s really been nice to be able to speak with representatives from other venues here today,” Higdon said. “Hopefully something great will work out as a result.”

“He’s our star student,” said ATC Culinary Lab Tech Kathy Stubbs. “They’d be lucky to have him.”

Among all of the vendors, there was a delicious something for everyone available, with a definite option for seconds.

By noon, the lines were gone, but stomachs were full, and smiles evident on every face.

“This is definitely an event that we will continue in the future,” said Albany Area Arts Council Executive Director Carol Hetzler. “It’s just such a great way to bring the community together.”


Date Posted: November 26, 2013
See the "Publications" page for updated agency information

Agency Brochure, Annual Report and Bi-Monthly Newlsetter are available on the "Publications" page.


Date Posted: November 21, 2013

ALBANY HERALD —  Jennifer Parks

An appearance from the Caregiver of the Year for Georgia, an address from Albany Downtown Manager Aaron Blair, an annual report review and remarks on the future of the SOWEGA Council on Aging with regards to the new center about to open was included in the annual meeting for the agency on Thursday.

The meeting was held Thursday at First United Methodist Church on Flint Avenue in downtown Albany.

The latest update on the center given Thursday indicated that the new SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center is expected to be occupied by mid-January. The 45,000-square-foot center is being built at a site formerly owned by Byne Memorial Baptist Church at 335 W. Society Ave.

In all, the project is a $7.8 million undertaking with funding being secured for the center through special-purpose, local-option sales tax dollars, funding from the city and Housing and Urban Development grants as well as loans, capital campaigns, donations, fundraising events and property sales.

The land for the facility was purchased by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital after Byne moved out, and Phoebe donated it in 2008 to the Council on Aging. Over time, funding for the project was collected, and ground was eventually broken at the site last year. The center — designed to bring the resources of five facilities under one roof — will include at least two elevators, a den, a kitchen that will be used for the Meals on Wheels program as well as other community events, a dining room that will have the same wood floor used for the gymnasium once in its place, a boardroom with a smart board, about 80 offices, an overflow room for receptions, a classroom, computer lab, craft rooms and a fitness room.

Along with a brief overview on the agency’s caregiver services was a few words from Caregiver of the Year Michael Jones, who has been serving as a primary caregiver for roughly 20 years.

In his remarks Thursday, Jones encouraged people to use the holiday season as an opportunity to think about what arrangements they want to make for themselves when it comes time for them to need full-time care.

“Caregiving involves the entire family,” he said. “One day, we will all be older and need the help of one of these facilities. We all deserve to be cared for and all deserve to be loved.”

At his turn at the podium, Blair gave appreciation to the council for saving a building in the downtown district with the construction of the new center and the meaning that might potentially have for people who knew it when it was still in the hands the church.

“Salvaging that (holds a certain) meaning for people,” he said. ” … You may have saved memories (and pride) for people.

“People ask me: ‘Why is downtown so important.’ … It can be said with one word — meaning. Loss of beauty (is connected) to a loss of meaning.”

At the end of the meeting, there was a nominating committee report that listed Carol Boyd, Juanita Benson, Kenneth Cutts, Lorie Farkas, Walter Judge, Eugene Sherman and Pam McDonald to serve on a three year term on the board of directors. A vote was to be taken on what officer positions they would serve after the meeting.


Date Posted: November 12, 2013
Budget Cuts, Sequestration, Programs, and New Senior Life Enrichment Center Updates

ALBANY HERALD — Jennifer Parks

Progress is on track for the new SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center, with occupancy of the building set to begin in a few weeks, officials at the Council on Aging say.

The 45,000-square-foot center — which is being built at a site formerly owned by Byne Memorial Baptist Church —will be seeing some activity soon as SOWEGA Council on Aging begins to move into the building throughout the month of December prior to its grand opening in January.

Debbie Blanton, assistant director of SOWEGA Council on Aging, and Izzie Sadler, the agency’s development director, gave an update on the center — as well as the Council in general — to the Dougherty Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Blanton started off by giving gratitude to the civic club for the services it is involved in that the Council’s clients benefit from, such as Meals on Wheels and Santas for Seniors. Then she made mention of some incoming cuts that are at least expected to impact clients receiving home delivered meals through the agency.

“Last Friday, we received notice that we would be getting a $300,000 cut (as part of) the sequester, and $130,000 will directly affect our nutrition program,” she said. “This is not the first time we have received cuts, and it will not be the last.”

Such cuts affect programs and services the agency offers, which is not the same pool of funding used to pay off the costs of the new center. In all, the project is a $7.8 million undertaking with funding being secured for the center through special-purpose, local-option sales tax dollars, funding from the city and Housing and Urban Development grants as well as loans, capital campaigns, donations, fundraising events and property sales.

Before turning the program over to Sadler to talk more about the new center, Blanton had one thing to say about the facility. “It’s a beautiful memorial to aging. It’s a great place to grow old.”

The land for the facility was purchased by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital after Byne moved out, and Phoebe donated it in 2008 to SOWEGA Council on Aging. Over time, funding for the project was collected, and ground was eventually broken at the site — at 335 W. Society Ave. — in October 2012. The center, designed to bring the resources of five facilities under one roof, will include at least two elevators, a den, a kitchen that will be used for the Meals on Wheels program as well as other community events, a dining room that will have the same wood floor used for the gymnasium once in its place, a boardroom with a smart board, more than 80 offices, an overflow room for receptions, a classroom, computer lab, craft rooms and a fitness room.

The dining room, Sadler said, will be big enough to seat 300 people banquet style, or 500 people theater style.

Currently, the council offers 20 programs and services by utilizing 15 centers in 14 counties.

“There are 10,000 people a day turning 65,” Sadler said. “We are trying to figure out a way locally … how the community is going to meet that need.”

The fitness room will be dedicated to Jessi Massey, mother of Albany retired coach and educator Jesse Massey, for the $10,000 contribution he made earlier this year to the Council on Aging for the purchase of fitness equipment. Other than donation from Massey in September, among the most recent contributions to be made include $300,000 in additional funding approved by the Albany City Commission last month and a benefit concert on Saturday featuring Todd Allen Herendeen.

The first event slated to take place at the new center will be the Empty Bowls fundraiser to benefit Meals on Wheels and the Albany Area Arts Council. It will take place Jan. 27 with tickets costing $20 each. Attendees will get a soup lunch, and will then be able to take home a bowl made by an area artist, Sadler said.


Date Posted: November 11, 2013
November 14


Date Posted: November 11, 2013
Important information for ASU Allumni


Date Posted: November 07, 2013
Lane Rosen brings great entertainment to Albany...benefiting senior programs.

ALBANY HERALD, Carlton Fletcher

Sadly, music fans will no longer get to experience the thrilling live performances of late music legends Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly.

But Saturday night, Southwest Georgia music lovers will have an opportunity to connect with the spirit of those great artists and others.

Indiana native Todd Allen Herendeen, one of the most dynamic musical showmen working in America today, is set to bring his Tribute to the Legends show to the Albany Municipal Auditorium on Saturday. The 7 p.m. performance will benefit the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging.  State Theatre owner Lane Rosen is promoting the benefit show.

“The Council on Aging has been our good neighbors at the State for the last 10 years,” Rosen said. “We are acutely aware of their economic predicament, so we wanted to help any way we could. It’s always good to do something that benefits our community, and the Council on Aging is one of our greatest causes. Some of the programs they provide give some of our senior citizens the only human contact they have all day.

“We were planning to have Todd’s show at the State because there is such a local demand to see him, but we decided to hold it at the Municipal Auditorium because it’s a more appropriate venue and gives us an opportunity to raise more money for the Council on Aging.”

Herendeen, whose patriotic 2011 single “My Name Is America” reached the No. 1 spot on the “indie” world country music chart, has opened for such superstar acts as Jerry Lee Lewis, B.J. Thomas, the Four Tops, “Little” Jimmy Dickens, Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson, the Beach Boys, the Platters, Diamond Rio, Foreigner and Rhett Akins. He has also hosted TV’s The Todd Allen Variety Show.

SOWEGA Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler said proceeds from Saturday’s show will help with a number of the council’s ongoing projects, as well as the construction of its new Senior Enrichment Center.

“Because of the (2010) census numbers, we received a big cut in the funding we get from the federal government,” Sadler said. “What people don’t know, though, is that because of sequestration, unless things change we will continue to have our funding cut for years to come.

“We’ve actively tried to diversify our funding, and community support is an important part of that. Lane contacted me about doing this benefit, and I think the fact he would hold it at the Municipal Auditorium rather than his own venue shows what a true supporter of our mission he is. We’re receiving 50 percent of the net proceeds from the show, and that funding will be used for several of our programs and to maintain our new facility.”

General admission tickets for Herendeen’s Legends Tribute are $40, while limited reserve seating is available for $50. Tickets are available at the Council on Aging’s 1105 Palmyra Road offices, at Austin’s Firegrill and at Moe’s Southwest Grill. For reserved seating contact Rosen at (229) 344-2237.

For additional information about the benefit concert, contact Rosen or the Council on Aging at (229) 432-1124.


Date Posted: October 02, 2013
Registration is now open for the "Serving Up Meals" tennis tournament


Date Posted: October 17, 2013

Albany Herald, Carlton Fletcher

Albany, GA -

Albany city leaders unanimously approved $300,000 to complete a new senior center.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director requested the money for finishing touches to the $7.7 Million center slated to open in a few months.

The building is 85% completed and has proven to be more expensive than expected.  But commissioners hope a little nudge will help bring it to completion.

City leaders said the workers finishing up the state of the art building are constructing a monument to our senior citizens.

"I'm really excited that the completion of the center is in November, and look forward to going to spending time and visiting with folks at the center," said Christopher Pike, Albany City Commissioner.

All kinds of community programs will be offered for those in need and for those looking to connect with others.

"You know, nobody stays young (laughs).  We hope that it'll be here for a long time serving the people that need and enjoy the program," said Kay Hind, SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director.

But the council needed an additional $300,000 for the project in the face of mounting costs, like the $1 Million it took just to clear the land.

"Projects, from time to time, they do go over budget and we felt comfortable that the request was realistic and that it would really help them meet their expectations and their desires to serve the senior citizens of our community," said Pike.

Seniors aren't the only one who will benefit from the building.  Commissioners say the center will generate more traffic to the downtown area, which could spark economic growth.

"We took a blighted property and turned it into a facility that's very nice and attractive.  So it also helps with our downtown revitalization efforts as well," said Pike.

Hind said Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital may have been motivated to donate the land in hopes it would help clean up the area.

"We did have a difficult time at first.  It had been vacant like 13 years and a lot of people were staying there and using it for various purposes and it took a lot," said Hind.

Though the building is for our seniors, Hind said the entire city will be proud of the new center.

Most of the $300,000 will go for landscaping and irrigation.  Workers will begin moving into the space sometime in December.  The building will officially open in January.


Date Posted: October 09, 2013
Government Shutdown Concerning Seniors

By Aaryn Valenzuela

Many South Georgia seniors are watching developments with the government shutdown, worried it will take money away from programs they depend on.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging was already dealing with budget cuts from sequestration, but so far things haven't gotten worse for them because of the shutdown.

Ruby Johnson visits the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging's Senior Center two to three times a week. She says it's a great place to enjoy a good meal and some company.

"If we didn't have this we would be bored. Our family members don't have to worry about us. Its a secure place, and its really great," says Ruby johnson, an area senior.

But as the government shutdown continues, the threat of more federally funded programs being cut is a concern for many people, including Johnson. She says many seniors don't have any other place to go.

"I mean we are seniors and its hard to find any other place, because they provide transportation also, for the ones who can't drive, and provide transportation so its really a blessing. the SOWEGA council on aging is really a blessing," says Johnson.

Kay Hind is the Executive Director of the Sowega Council on Aging, and says they are heavily supported by state and federal funding, but so far none of their programs, including meals on wheels, have been impacted.

"Well let me say this, we are operating normally now, of course I keep up as much as I can with whats going on, but at this point we don't have any plans to make any changes," says Kay Hind, Executive Director of Sowega Council on Aging.

Meals on wheels volunteers deliver about 125 meals daily in Dougherty county five days it week.  For many, it's the only hot meal they get each day.

"Maybe they have a physical handicap that they can't stand up there, they are too shaky or they can't see, you know, whatever it is," says Johnson.

Hind says if the shutdown continues and something does change they will give advance notice.

Meals on wheels is one of more than 20 programs the Sowega Council on Aging administers, serving seniors in 14 counties.

You have to be at least 60 years old to qualify for Meals on Wheels. A tennis tournament later this month will raise money for the program.


Date Posted: September 25, 2013
Coach Massey Gives Generous Donation

ALBANY, GA -- WFXL, Franklin White

On Thursday, SOWEGA Council on Aging received a huge donation to go toward buying new equipment for the fitness center in the new building located on Society Avenue.

The amount awarded totaled $10,000 and all the money donated is from local resident Jesse Massey.

He says all the money given was from years and years of saving and wanting to help provide a better life for the elderly.

Massey says, "why not help something that's going to help everybody including myself one day."

Kay Hind, Executive Director with SOWEGA Council on Aging says, "we're so excited about someone from the community stepping up and doing something for the community. We welcome that and welcome anyone else who would like to donate." 

The donation will be used to buy treadmills, bicycle, weights and an arm cycle for those using wheelchairs.

The new building will be known as the Senior Life Enrichment Center, and is expected to be completed in December. The building is currently being constructed, and is at 80 percent completion at last check. Demolition started on the building in 2008.

The old locations are on 311 Pine Avenue, and at the Albany Housing Authority. The total cost for the project is $7.9 million dollars.


Date Posted: September 25, 2013
Massey supports Senior Life Enrichment Center

Albany Herald - Jennifer Parks

ALBANY — While the finishing touches are now being put on what will soon become the SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center, donations are still needed to bring the project to completion.

Among the most recent benefactors for the center was retired coach and educator Jesse Massey, who donated $10,000 to Council on Aging officials this week for the purchase of equipment to go in what will become the center’s fitness room.

As of earlier this week, the 45,000-square-foot center — which is being built at a site formerly owned by Byne Memorial Baptist Church — was 80 percent complete. The land was later purchased by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and Phoebe donated it in 2008 to SOWEGA. Over time, funding for the project was collected, and ground was eventually broken at the site — at 335 W. Society Ave. — in October 2012.

Bringing several facilities under one roof, officials say the project is expected to be complete in December — putting it on track for a grand opening in early 2014.

The center will include at least two elevators, a den, a kitchen that will be used for the Meals on Wheels program as well as other community events, a dining room that will have the same wood floor used for the gymnasium that was once in its place, boardroom with a smart board, more than 80 offices, an overflow room for receptions, a classroom, computer lab, craft rooms and the fitness room — which will be dedicated to Massey’s mother, Jessi Massey.

The fitness room, as it is now, has holes visible in the floor were the treadmills will go. With the help of Jesse Massey’s donation, the room will also have stationary bicycles, weights, arm cycles for the wheelchair-bound and a couple of TV sets — which are expected to be ordered in the next month, officials say.

The former educator, who grew up in a home nearby the future center, said he had been saving up since 2008 in order to present the $10,000 check to Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind this week.

“He has been a supporter of ours for years. It’s not surprising in his retirement (that he would make this contribution),” Hind said. “We are so excited about someone from the community stepping up. In this case, we didn’t even have to ask. We welcome this, and anyone else who wants to help.”

This particular donation, Hind said, ties into the overall mission of allowing senior citizens to live longer and healthier lives.

“One of the things we are hoping to do is get older people to improve themselves,” she said.

Jesse Massey said he first met Hind in 2001 when a group of students from Albany Middle School chose the council as the non-profit they wanted to support — resulting in a $125 donation.

“It was small, but it was from the heart,” he said. “I retired in 2008, and when this (project) came into being, I jumped on that. It is so important that others jump on board.

“There are two things I do — young people and old people. (I made the donation) because of the need to help the community. I’ve got to live here, so I’ve got to make it better. I’m almost a senior citizen, and I’m trying to help out.”

The retired coach also said the donation was also part of a personal goal he has made for himself in honor of his fraternity celebrating 100 years to do 100 good deeds in one year.

Massey’s check adds to the $5.8 million that has been raised so far for the $7.8 million project. Special-purpose, local-option sales tax dollars have contributed $3 million, funding from the city and Housing and Urban Development grants have brought in $642,918, while capital campaigns, donations, recent fundraising events and property sales have contributed $2.2 million to the project.

This leaves $2 million that still needs to be raised in order to bring the project to completion.

“It is taking all the money we’ve got, plus a little more,” Hind said. ” … We are still raising money. We don’t have enough. We are looking at a mortgage.”


Date Posted: August 26, 2013
Volunteers and donors help make Meals on Wheels program a success

WFXL - Franklin White

It only takes a couple of hours, and just a few days out of the month to provide a hot meal to someone though Meals on Wheels.

A program that officials say is so beneficial and why a small donation can travel a long way.

For the past 20 years, Anne Owen has dedicated her time providing a meal to the people who need it most.

She says once a month she volunteers with Meals on Wheels servicing people in the East Albany community.

Lucille Crouch, Meals on Wheels Director says the program has over 300 volunteers, which helps them provide over 186,000 meals per year to the 14 counties they serve.

So good, that because of those hefty donations and fundraisers they were able to raise over $75,000 in this year alone.

Izzie Sadler with the SOWEGA Council on Aging says, "We also do a lot of fundraisers in our community and try to incorporate fun ways to raise these funds."

And for Owen she says her love and compassion for people keeps her doing what she does.

Owen says, "it's a little more than waving to somebody or giving someone money this is actually physically getting out and doing it and it is a touchy feely thing and it does make you feel good."


Date Posted: August 26, 2013
Meals on Wheels receives support from Darden Restaurants



The SOWEGA Council on Aging, Area on Aging received a $1,000 grant as part of the Restaurant Community Grants program from the Darden Foundation.

The donation will give the Council the chance to serve 142 meals to seniors through the Meals on Wheels program.

SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind says, "not only do we appreciate the donation, we also appreciate the recognition."

The Darden Foundation will award more than $1.9 million to more than 850 nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

Red Lobster was on hand to donate the money. They are apart of the Restaurant Community Grant program from the Darden Foundation, the charitable arm of Darden Restaurant, Inc.


Date Posted: August 16, 2013
Dr. Swanberg performed at the 8th Annual Comedy Night - Fundraiser raises much needed funds for Meals on Wheels program

Comedy raises money for seniors

Posted: Aug 15, 2013 11:57 PM EDT Updated: Aug 16, 2013 8:35 AM EDT

The Albany Municipal Auditorium was filled with laughter Thursday night.

Comedian Dennis Swanberg entertained the crowd to raise money for the SOWEGA Council on Aging's Meals on Wheels program.

Organizers hoped to raise about $40,000 for the program that's dealing with severe budget cuts right now. Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler said, "You know meals on wheels is a serious program. It benefits seniors who are homebound. We deliver warm meals to them, which is a serious thing, and so to have a little humor and raise some funds is all good"

This is the 8th year the Council on Aging has put on the Comedy Night fundraiser. They plan to do it again next year.


Date Posted: August 08, 2013


Major funding cuts and a 30-percent increase in Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance costs force the SOWEGA Council on Aging to make its deepest spending cuts ever.

Some services for seniors will be eliminated, and the 29 employees who took advantage of health benefits will have to look elsewhere for coverage. The council's executive director said the timing couldn't be worse.

When the SOWEGA Council on aging was faced with a 13-percent funding cut beginning on July 1st, the executive director began searching for answers.

"How do you absorb 386-thousand-dollars in cuts?  And like I say, even though we are here to serve the elderly, and if I took it all out of services there wouldn't be much left," said Kay Hind, SOWEGA Executive Director.

As a result, the roughly 130 employees who work for the council, 90 of whom are full-time, will have to look for private insurance coverage.  Other cuts include reducing meal services at the council's 15 senior centers among other services, and even a hiring freeze.

"We've cut back on some of our home delivered meals and we really hat to do that because we know they're dependent," said Hind.

She said the cuts in funding came after the census was released.

"Every ten years, when the census comes out, they refigure it.  And this year when we get the word, we had lost a lot of the population."  (Kay Hind, SOWEGA Executive Director).

And the cuts come as the council's new building is roughly 80-percent finished, which has raised some questions about the council's use of money.

"The money that was used for it was SPLOST money that the city and the county approved for us, and the voters voted for it.  And we also got HUD (Housing and Urban Development) grants through Congressman Sanford Bishop," Hind said.

The law designates that money solely for construction.  But now the council plans to attend public hearings to try to change state way the state funds programs.

"We're gonna be there saying it's not the number of people, it's the number of people in need.  And I think we'll be able to get it changed.  It won't be in effect this year, but it can certainly affect next year's budget," said Hind.

She said she doesn't know when she'll have to cut some of the council's meal services...but says she's trying to hold off as long as she can.

The council is hosting a fundraiser for meals on wheels on August 15th.

Call (229)432-1124 or visit for more information on how you can make a donation or buy a ticket to the event.


Date Posted: July 25, 2013
8th Annual Comedy Night Benefits Meals on Wheels - August 15

ALBANY — When the dog days of summer hit, they take a lot out of you and leave you feeling a little down. A nice Italian dinner followed by laughter shared with a few hundred of your closest friends, all for a good cause, could be just the pick-me-up you need.

That’s a pretty specific prescription for what ails you, but the SOWEGA Council on Aging has it all lined up for the evening of Aug. 15.

The 8th annual Comedy Night fundraiser for the Council starts with an Italian Feast at the Hilton Garden Inn followed by quips and stories by Dennis “The Swan” Swanberg, who bills himself as “America’s Minister of Encouragement,” at the Albany Municipal Auditorium.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Council’s Meals on Wheels program, which brings meals to elderly shut-ins year round. Last year the program delivered 186,000 of those meals

“We enjoy putting on the Comedy Night because it gives us the opportunity to laugh and have a good time. Even though we receive budget cuts, we don’t want to be discouraged to the extent in which we can’t enjoy life,” Kay Hind, executive director of SOWEGA Council on Aging, said. “It is important to us that this event is appropriate for the whole family, and we always select a comedian with good, clean humor.”

Swanberg is no stranger to many in the Albany area, having previously performed at Sherwood Baptist Church. In addition to entertaining audiences with his often hilarious tales of growing up, family life and quirky things that can happen at church, he has a repertoire of 20 impressions, including the late Don Knotts’ unforgettable character Barney Fife.

Swanberg, who’s currently performing on a cruise, says he developed his Fife character and other parts of his routine thanks to some unintended inspiration from his mother. “Most moms yell at kids to go outside and play,” he says in a biography section on his website, “My mom would say, ‘You sit there and watch that television — your daddy worked so hard for it!’”

A class clown in high school, Swanberg says he expected a career as a “crazy radio DJ” or a “Funny TV weatherman,” when he started school at Baylor University, but then felt led to enter the ministry. Inspired by Grady Nutt, a Southern Baptist preacher and comedian who appeared on “Hee Haw,” he maintained his entertainment moonlighting while serving as pastor of a number of churches.

He reached a point, however, when he decided to step up to the microphone full time. This year Swanberg is scheduled to appear at more than 150 churches, conferences, businesses and concert events while his TBN and FamNet television shows continue air weekly. His eighth book, this one on men’s ministry. is scheduled to hit the marketplace this year.

Those budget cuts have made success for this year’s Comedy Night fundraiser even more critical. Each of those 186,000 meals that were delivered to homes on weekdays in 2012 costs $7. In addition, the Council provided 146,000 meals at its senior centers in its district.

“Our funding isn’t necessarily for seniors in financial need,” Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council. “It’s for the total number of seniors in the area.

With more seniors locating in north Georgia, the Southwest Georgia regional council has been cut $352,000, Sadler said. Of that cut, $200,000 was from funding for the senior center meals and Meals on Wheels programs.

“We’ve had some pretty severe cuts,” she said, “and that doesn’t include sequestration, which will be kicking in.”

Figuring out ways to make up for spending cuts of that magnitude can leave a person looking for a reason to smile or laugh.

“I think that’s why I love Comedy Night,” Sadler said. “These are serious programs and serious needs. It’s a lighthearted way to raise those funds.”

Swanberg’s performance is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Municipal Auditorium, 200 N. Jackson St. For the first time, the Council is selling premium seating tickets.

“This year we’re offering reserved seating,” she said, adding the cost for a ground-level seat will be $40, while general admission is $30. “In the past, we’ve just opened the doors (with all seats general admission).”

Before the event, attendees can enjoy an Italian Feast at the riverfront Hilton Garden Inn at 101 S. Front St. between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The cost of the meal is $20 per person.

“It’ll be a good, entertaining evening — good entertainment, good meal at an affordable cost,” Sadler said. “Plus, it benefits a great cause. And that’s what it really comes down to.”

Tickets are available online at or at 1105 Palmyra Road. Contact (229) 432-1124.

For Tickets:  See "EVENTS" Tab to order online, or pick up at 1105 Palmyra Road (229) 432-1124


Date Posted: July 10, 2013


Date Posted: July 02, 2013
Register now...and change your life.


Date Posted: June 21, 2013
This 6-week course provides a "Tool Kit" for Caregivers

Are you a Caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who cares for a parent, spouse, friend or relatives, and provides assistance with “activities of daily living,” such as helping someone to eat, bath, dress, transport and toileting.  Other activities you may assist with are house work, balancing a check book, and assisting with doctor appointments.  As a family member or friend, you are doing what comes naturally when you love and care for someone, and you are a caregiver.  Being a caregiver can be overwhelming at times.  There are many resources in your community that assist caregivers, such as the educational resource Powerful Tools for Caregivers.  It is a six-week course that meets once per week. The class will give you a “box of tools” for managing your self-care.  Each class will show you effective approaches on:

  • Taking care of you
  • Reducing personal Stress
  • Changing negative self-talk
  • Communicating your feelings and needs to others
  • Setting limits and asking for help

You will receive a Caregiver Help book that addresses specific caregiver issues.


For more information or to register, contact:  Family Caregiver Program (229) 432-1124.


Date Posted: June 21, 2013
Healthcare leaders come together to share important information with seniors


There's a lot most of us don't understand about the health care reform law. Advocates want to make sure seniors understand aspects of the law that focus on preventive health care to help them avoid expensive hospital stays.

Dollie Mae Roberts is living with congestive hearth failure.  She has to watch the activities she takes part in, so she won't put too much stress on her heart.

"Yes sometimes you feel like you want to do a lot of things that you have been used to doing and you can't do that because it will put a lot of stress on your heart" said Dollie Mae Roberts, event attendee.

She joined other seniors at Phoebe Northwest Thursday night to learn ways to stay out of the hospital.

"We see a high rate of hospital readmissions for certain health conditions and we're just wanting to educate the public so we can help that and make a healthier community," said Babs Hall, Program Manager, SOWEGA Council on Aging.

Roberts says she is extremely appreciative for this event sponsored by Community Outreach Program & Education.

"It's been very helpful because I live with this condition for several years," said Roberts.

But she doesn't let her condition stop her from finding ways to get some exercise in so she can keep her heart strong.

"I continue to cook, I wash, I make beds, I sweep my kitchen floor," said Roberts.

Those activities are helpful, so is the information she received Thursday night from health leaders.

Organizers of Thursday's event want to help seniors manage chronic health problems and prevent other illnesses.

"We always want to encourage people to watch their diet and what their intake is, as well as the lifestyle they lead," said Hall.

So in the end, everyone can remain strong like Dollie.

Organizers plan to hold another event like this in the near future.


Date Posted: June 18, 2013
Buy your tickets now for Comedy Night 2013- Benefiting Meals on Wheels!

Go to the "EVENTS" tab to purchase tickets


Date Posted: June 18, 2013
Kay HInd Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Albany Herald - Editorial Board


The rest of the state now knows something that many in the Albany area were already well aware of: For more than four decades, Kay Hind has been a force of positive impact on Albany and Southwest Georgia.

Last week at the Healthy Community Summit in Macon, Hind was given an award recognizing the hard, selfless work she has done on behalf of older people in our area through the SOWEGA Council on Aging. Hind was awarded the Georgia Aging Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Indeed, her life had been one of achievement, and residents of Albany and Southwest Georgia have been the beneficiaries.

“Obviously, I don’t do it alone,” Hind said in an interview with The Albany Herald. “I just happen to be the figurehead. I got the award, but because I’m here and the programs work. We can be a role model for some of the other programs.”

There is truth in that statement. No organization such as the SOWEGA Council on Aging could be successful without a team effort by dedicated, talented individuals. But there is also a great deal of Hind’s characteristic modesty. As executive director, she has been the captain of her organization’s ship, the one who determines a direction and steers everyone on board toward it. Without vision, there would be nothing to see.

And the SOWEGA Council on Aging certainly has plenty to see, from its programs to the new construction that is under way on the Senior Life Enrichment Center at the former site of Byne Memorial Baptist Church on West Society Avenue. This is a project Hind had championed for years, and expectations are that the $8 million, 45,000-square-foot facility will be operating early next year.

Hind’s leadership went a long way toward making that dream a reality, one that will benefit the community along with the people that the council serves.

As she notes, the new facility is full of potential, as is the council’s executive director, who is showing no signs of slowing down.

“The fact they gave it (the award) to me ... it is always nice to be recognized by those who know you,” Hind said. “It doesn’t have to be much, but it is nice to get something. ... I’ve been doing this job for years and I love what I do.”

Our region is fortunate that Hind found the job that she loved here. Albany and Southwest Georgia are all the better for it.


Date Posted: April 26, 2013
City Officials and Board of Directors tour Senior Life Enrichment Center project site

ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany Herald

Jennifer Maddox Parks

While progress continues on the SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center on West Society Avenue, fundraising activities necessary to help pay off the cost for the center's construction are ongoing.

"The building is just going great," said SOWEGA Executive Director Kay Hind. "We did a walk-through this week, and it is unbelievable. I can't imagine this is going to happen."

The center is on track for completion at the end of November. The goal is to have it occupied around Christmas, which will follow with a grand opening in early 2014, Hind said.

"We have talked about having a class on how to use a cell phone. I'll be taking that class," Hind quipped. "... We've already been contacted by groups who want to have their state meetings there."

In addition to a walk-through conducted by the staff earlier in the week, a tour was conducted for area officials at the site Thursday afternoon.

"When we go out and speak to folks about what we will offer, they say, 'That's great,'" said Izzie Sadler, development director for the agency. "But once they see it ..."

Sadler added that its location in the historical district of Albany has been taken into account in the architecture of the 45,000-square-foot building. With the assistance of grants and fundraising events that are upcoming, officials hope to have the center -- worth a total of $8 million -- paid off in the coming months.

One of the fundraisers officials hope will help with that is the Kentucky Derby event "Juleps, Jockeys & Jazz" set for 5 p.m.-8 p.m. May 4 at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club.

Last year's event, the first one SOWEGA conducted, was attended by 350 people.

"We hope to have the same number or more this year," Sadler said.

A hat parade, betting games on the horses, a live jazz band and a silent auction will be among the festivities taking place as the race is streamed live from the country club, officials say.

"We will do everything we did (at the event) last year," Hind said.

A Buster Posey bat is among the items expected to be up for auction at the event. Tickets are $60 a person, and can be purchased online at on the "Events" page, by visiting the office at 1105 Palmyra Road or by calling (229) 432-1124.

Tickets can be bought at the door, but it is preferred that attendees register in advance.

With the center being funded through private donations, special-purpose, local-option sales tax and grants, the monetary support for the building differs from the funds SOWEGA is anticipating cuts from -- which will consist solely of money used for programs the agency offers.

Recent census data indicated that SOWEGA would be receiving a 13.2 percent cut, the biggest for a council on aging in Georgia. Officials on the state level, however, are attempting to work it out so that no region receives more than a 5 percent cut, Hind said.

"That is what we were told last week," she said.

As far as the sequester is concerned, Hind said officials are not sure when those cuts would take effect or how much they would be.

The center, which has been in development for seven years, is anticipated to help close the gap expected to result from the impending cuts."The building will be a means to generate income," Sadler said. "It will be an important part of generating income so we will not be so reliant on state and federal funding."

In the meantime, officials say programing is going full force at the agency with 25 new clients added every month. New educational programs are coming on board, including those catered toward caregiver training, chronic disease self-management and fall prevention, officials say.


Date Posted: March 27, 2013
Help spread the word that Medicare covers screenings for Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

There are 35 million Americans who are 65 years or older. As many as 17 million of them have undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes.


That’s why government, professional and private sector organizations, co-chaired by the American Diabetes Association, Healthcare Leadership Council, and Novo Nordisk Inc., are joining forces to create awareness of the screening benefits for diabetes and pre-diabetes available under Medicare.


Millions of seniors are not getting the treatment they need to prevent heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and amputations. And millions more may be missing a chance to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.


Date Posted: March 25, 2013
Albany Exchange Club Names Charlie Phillips Golden Deed Award Winner


The Albany Exchange Club gave one of their highest awards Friday evening by naming their Golden Deeds award recipient of the year.

89- year-old Charlie Phillips was named this year's Golden Deed award winner.

The winner of the award must improve the community throughout the year without seeking recognition.

Phillips is with the SOWEGA Council on aging and helps builds ramps for the disabled in the community.

"He is somebody that has gone out in the community and taken his own time out. This is not a paid thing, it's a volunteer thing for him and he really puts his heart and soul into making sure good ramps are built," said Golden Deeds Chairman Chuck Knight.

This is the 65th year the Golden Deeds award has been handed out.


Date Posted: March 15, 2013


Date Posted: March 13, 2013
Despite poverty in the area, Southwest Georgia gets biggest cuts in the State


Programs for Southwest Georgia senior citizens face big budget cuts. The SOWEGA Council on Aging has been notified their state funding will be cut by $351,000. Because of Sequester the federal money the agency gets could be cut another 5%.

Despite the poverty in this part of the state, The SOWEGA Council on Aging received the biggest cut of the 12 areas in Georgia in the Agency on Aging.

Now leaders are having to talk about rationing services and cutting meals except for the most in need.

Geneva Bond says she thinks many of her friends at the Pine Avenue Senior Citizen Center are being unfairly targeted by budget cuts. "I believe so. They just seem like they don't care about seniors anymore," she said.

85-year-old Colleen Chappell drives from Mitchell County to the senior center every day to volunteer, because she believes the food and programs for seniors are badly needed. "I think they just don't care about us anymore. I don't know why they target us all the time," she said.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging budget was cut one million dollars in the last fiscal year, to five and a half million dollars to serve the 14 county area. Now because of 2010 Census statistics, SOWEGA faces the biggest cut of the state's 12 area agencies, more than 13%.

Now word to be prepared in July for sequestration federal cuts that could be another 5%. SOWEGA Council On Aging Executive Director Kay Hind said, "All these years that I've been here we have never had anything like this before."

Hind hopes to avoid cutting jobs. The SOWEGA Council on Aging has 140 employees in their 14 counties, and Hind says they will not be hiring anyone to replace people who leave. If the budget cuts go through, she worries it could mean cutting more than 200 meals a day.

"I hate to say it, possibly ration things. Like somebody coming three days a week to eat, and the other ones come in two. Whatever we have to do to serve as many people as you can, and not cut anybody off that needs it."

Bond said "A lot of people come here, because it's the only hot meal they get during the day."

Hind says they are working on across the board budget cuts, hitting every program from meals on wheels to homemakers.

Chappell worries about the seniors at her center, who depend on it.  "I thought it was just very unfair for the seniors, because they live on a fixed income. With everything else going higher and them still cutting, it's just bad."

Bad for senior citizens, being told to get by with less again.

Kay Hind said the cuts will not affect their new senior center that's currently under construction. Once it opens, the agency will reduce expenses by centralizing programs and earn income by renting out facilities.

Hind said she's glad that state legislators returned money for senior caregiver and protective services that was cut earlier. Now she hopes more money can be found to lessen the impact of proposed cuts.


Date Posted: March 12, 2013
Grant helps fund "A Matter of Balance" - fall prevention program


During a Monday morning Community Benefits Committee meeting, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials donated close to $85,000 to Southwest Georgia organizations that are making a difference in the community.

Ten groups were given grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.

100 Black Men of Albany received $10,000 for the "Youth Mental Health Alliance" project while the SOWEGA Council on Aging was granted $11,804 for the "Matter of Balance" fall management program.

Representatives with the Council on Aging say the funds will be used to purchase equipment to help prevent the elderly from falling.

Phoebe officials say the money is set aside for community partners who are aligned with the priorities of the hospital.

“The funds that we have are reaching a vast group of different needs within the community; areas such as poverty, health education, and folks with disability. So partnering with all of those non-profits really helps us to broaden our reach,” said Ron Wallace, Chairman of the Phoebe Community Benefits Committee.


Date Posted: February 20, 2013
Making the switch to Electronic Federal Benefit payments


The SOWEGA Council on Aging is trying to educate elders on the fast-approaching March 1st Go Direct deadline that will require all people to switch to electronic payments from the United States Treasury Department.

The department gave people that will be affected a year to make the switch but now the deadline is almost here and Georgia Cares Coordinator with the SOWEGA Council on Aging Brian Ramey says he wants to make sure everyone knows what to expect.

Those who receive checks from the treasury department like social security, retirement, or military benefits will no longer receive them in paper format. People have the option to set up a direct deposit with their bank account or accept future payments on a prepaid debit card.

Ramey says the office has tried to educate elders, who are sometimes not computer savvy, of how to make the change but there are always people who slip through the cracks.

If a person does not call, go online or go to their bank to set up direct deposit, they will automatically receive the prepaid card instead.

Ramey says if you somehow miss the deadline, don't worry you will still get your check, it just won't be as quick.

The department is making the switch to try and save money used on all of the paper and prevent lost or stolen checks.


Date Posted: February 07, 2013
For individuals age 60+ with low to moderate income


The SOWEGA Council on Aging wants to help you file your taxes.

The group is offering free tax counseling and preparation with E-filing to moderate and low-income taxpayers with special attention to people over 60.

The program started Monday and runs through April 15th

Volunteers encourage people to take advantage of the opportunity.

"If you go to a paid preparer, it's going to cost you money and if you're in the low income bracket then you don't need to be spending it. That's the benefit we see," said volunteer Laura McKinney.

Returns will be prepared on Mondays and Tuesdays.

You need an appointment. To setup an appointment, call (229) 432-113


Date Posted: February 07, 2013
Thanks to Shane Kelley and Monsanto Fund


Shane Kelley, a farmer in Newton, was selected as a winner in America's Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.

The contest gives the winner $2,500 to donate to their favorite nonprofit organization. If the county is designated as a disaster area, which Newton was, the farmer gets to donate an extra $2,500 to another organization.

Kelley chose to donate the money to the Baker County Senior Center and a local volunteer fire station.

The check was presented to the senior center Thursday morning.

Kay Hind, president of the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging, said with recent budget cuts, the senior center is even more excited to be receiving this donation. She also said the first thing they plan to do with the money is throw a Valentine's Day party for the senior citizens.


Date Posted: February 06, 2013
Black History Month Celebration


In recognition of Black History Month, Dr. Jacqueline H. Grant, District Health Director for the Southwest Georgia Health District, is addressing seniors at the Albany Senior Center 309 Pine Avenue.  The event is free and open to the community.

Dr. Grant is responsible for managing all public health programs within a 6,000-square-mile, 14-county health district that abuts Alabama to the west and Florida to the south. An Atlanta native, she began her tenure as the top public health official in Southwest Georgia in 2005.

She is a former medical director of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where she received national recognition in Best Doctors of America, 2003-2004.

Dr. Grant served on the faculty at Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine prior to working full-time in the private sector from 1994-1997.

She received a master of public administration degree from Harvard University, a master of public health degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama and a doctor of medicine degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Since coming to the Southwest Health District, Dr. Grant has implemented an innovative interactive worksite wellness program; presided over district restructuring to improve efficiency; overseen creation of the nonprofit Friends of Southwest Georgia Public Health; and provided guidance during emergencies such as devastating floods, tornadoes and outbreaks of disease and foodborne illnesses.


Date Posted: January 29, 2013
Fundraiser for Albany Area Arts Council and SOWEGA Council on Aging

J.D. Sumner

Albany Herald

ALBANY, Ga. -- When the organizers of the annual Empty Bowls closed up shop around 2 p.m. Monday, there was hardly a bowl left to be had.

After more than 100 people flowed into the conference center space on the ground floor of the center armed with tickets to pick out hand-crafted bowls, there were slim pickings for any late comers.

"When we opened the door at 11 (a.m.), there was a big line of people waiting to get in," Kristen Caso, a city of Albany employee and board member with the Albany Area Arts Council, said. "People know to get the best bowls, you have to get here early."

With their bowls selected, wrapped and bagged, patrons of the joint fundraiser for the Albany Area Arts Council and the SOWEGA Council on Aging sampled soup, gumbo and stews from 18 different area restaurants who had set up on site.

"It's a unique event because people have an opportunity to help two local organizations and they get to take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art from local artists," Izzie Sadler, an executive with the SOWEGA Council on Aging said.

People from all over the region brought their $20 tickets to the Civic Center on Monday to grab a bowl, have a tasty lunch and take in live music and some social time before heading back to work.

Arts Council Executive Director Carol Hetzler said that the empty bowls idea is one that is symbolic of the hunger issues facing the country.

"It's a national movement to draw attention the fact that every community has empty bowls; that there are people who are going hungry each day in this country," Hetzler said.

Hetzler's quote hits close to home at the SOWEGA Council on Aging, whose Meals on Wheels program provides 146,000 meals every year to seniors who aren't able to leave their homes.


Date Posted: January 15, 2013

Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald

ALBANY, Ga. — There are certainly larger fundraisers held here each year, but there is none with a more complete community feel than the Jan. 28 Empty Bowls outreach that benefits both the SOWEGA Council on Aging and the Albany Area Arts Council.

In its second year after a quick sellout in 2012, Empty Bowls brings disparate components of the community together in a unique event planned to shine a light on the plight of the world’s hungry as well as generate funds for the Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program and the Arts Council’s efforts to encourage, sponsor and support the arts and culture in the community.

“Empty Bowls is all about the community,” Arts Council Executive Director Carol Hetzler said. “You have two long-serving downtown nonprofits working together with local artists, local restaurants and local volunteers — and supported by individuals and civic organizations throughout the community — to provide a reminder of all the empty bowls throughout our community.

“Everyone involved has embraced the concept of giving to help others. It’s just a very positive thing.”

Hetzler brought the Empty Bowls concept with her to Albany from North Carolina, and she and Sadler, the Council on Aging’s development director, sprung the concept on the community for the first time last year. Their modest goal of selling 200 bowls (at $20 each) of soup was reached well before the day of the event.

“It went so well last year, we’re shooting to double participation this year,” Hetzler said. “We’ve got 400 tickets.”

Supporters buy an Empty Bowls bowl, each of which is created and specially designed by local artists, from the Arts Council or the Council on Aging. On the 28th, they will gather at the Albany Civic Center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and claim the bowl of their choice, which is theirs to keep. Once they have a bowl picked out, they’ll sit down to a lunch of hearty soup prepared and donated by some of the community’s best cooks.

Area artists in the Georgia Artist Guild of Albany and the Americus-Sumter County Arts Council are among those who designed, created and decorated bowls for the event. Clay Spot owner Anita Riggle, Kirby Gregory, George Carter and Scott Marini are Albany artists whose talents will be on display; while Keaton Wynn, Sam Hendley, John Lin and Sunni Zemblowsi are Americus-based participants.

A sampling of the hand-made bowls by local artists that will be included in the Empty Bowls outreach project to help ease hunger in the community are shown.

Other artists volunteering their talents are Walter Hobbs and Patrick Schloss of Valdosta and Thad Brewer of Oakfield. Golden Cuisine became the event’s first business sponsor, supplying the materials for many of the bowls.

Supporter Erica Jackson of Albany said she loves the concept of Empty Bowls.

“I feel it’s an awesome event,” she said. “It reminds us of those who don’t have bowls or anything to fill them with. That alone inspires me to want to go out and do what I can to help fight hunger. The event also allows local artists to bring attention to their talents.

“Empty Bowls is a great way to bring awareness to hunger and give back to our community. I’m proud to be a participant.”

Once ticket-holders — there will be no sales on the day of the event, and supporters must have their tickets with them — have secured their artwork of choice, they will settle in and enjoy homemade soups provided by community partner restaurants and resterauteurs including Austin’s Firegrill, B.J. Fletcher, Elements, Lemongrass, Merry Acres and Stewbo’s Restaurant Group, Our Daily Bread, Terry Lee’s Olde World Sandwich Shoppe, the Meals on Wheels kitchen crew, the Corner Cafe, Albany Technical College Culinary Arts students, the Westover High School Culinary Arts program, Viet Pho, Southern Elegance Catering, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Pearly’s Famous Country Cooking and Red Lobster.

Live entertainment will be provided by local musician Cole Hankins.

With such a wide variety of soups available, supporters will have as tough a time deciding on which soup to enjoy as they will picking out a decorative bowl. But Terry Lee’s Cowboy soup will no doubt be a favorite.

“I got involved with this because the Council on Aging is such a worthwhile agency; they really helped my mother,” Lee said. “I believe they do a lot of good in the community, and I’m more than happy to help them out.

“In some benefits like this, you find out that a lot of the money goes to administration and other costs. The Empty Bowls money goes directly to the two agencies, where it should go.”

Just what you’d expect from such a community-specific benefit.

“This will be a very casual, a very cozy event,” Sadler said. “Mrs. (SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay) Hind and I were talking about the fundraisers we have, and we agree that this is one of our favorites. It definitely takes the entire community to make it happen.

“All of the artwork and all of the food is donated, so we’ll split the proceeds from the sales and use them for our programs. Expenses are very limited; I believe of the $4,000 from last year’s Empty Bowls, we had expenses of only $140.”

Doubling available tickets and, more importantly, participation in Empty Bowls is a logical second step for the creative minds behind the fundraiser. As they speak — excitedly — about it, it’s not hard to see Hetzler’s and Sadler’s creative wheels turning.

“We’re taking things a step further this year,” Hetzler said. “There are beaucoodle ways we can continue to grow. And everyone benefits. The artists and restaurants get a level of awareness, the city and Civic Center get involved and since a lot of people are coming downtown — many who don’t usually come this way — I’m sure some of our downtown businesses may benefit.

“There aren’t many events where people from all walks of life — young, old, male female, business men and women, city employees — gather together around a table and just enjoy an experience like this. It truly is all about the community.”

For tickets or information about Empty Bowls, call the Arts Council at (229) 439-2787 or the Council on Aging at (229) 432-1124. Online, go to or


Date Posted: January 03, 2013
Decatur, Jan. 15 - Albany, Jan. 23 @ 1:30 PM

Public Hearings offer an opportunity for the public to learn about and discuss programs and services offered by the SOWEGA Council on Aging (COA).  The COA offers programs and services for individuals age 60+ in 14 counties of southwest Georgia.


January 15 - Decatur Senior Center - 402 W. Water Street, Bainbridge @ 1:30pm

January 23 - Albany Site #1 Senior Center - 311 Pine Avenue, Albany    @ 1:30pm


Date Posted: November 30, 2012
Council on Aging Presents Annual Report

Jennifer Maddox Parks - Albany Herald

ALBANY, Ga. — With much to look forward to in the future, the SOWEGA Council on Aging is continuing to provide services to the region's elderly.

The organization held its annual meeting at First United Methodist Church in downtown Albany on Tuesday afternoon.

At the meeting, Council Executive Director Kay Hind discussed the 2012 annual report, as well as the future of the organization with the construction of the new Senior Life Enrichment Center on West Society Avenue that officials held a groundbreaking for last month.

The 45,000-square-foot center, scheduled to be completed in December 2013, will serve as the hub for all of the agency's offices, programs and services. The total value of the project, once complete, is expected to be more than $8 million.

The report showed that the agency provided $10.3 million in community-based care services over the year, which are provided to individuals who are eligible for Medicaid as an alternative to nursing home placement. Of that $10.3 million, more than $7.8 million went toward personal support services.

In Fiscal Year 2012, 758 people were served through the organization's Community Care Services Program, the report shows. At the same time, there were a total of 14,464 incoming calls to the Gateway/Aging and Disability Resource Connection, 8,095 hours of in-home respite care provided, 5,626 routine visits to nursing homes conducted through the ombudsmen program and 186,144 meals delivered as part of "Meals on Wheels."

The COA also welcomed at the meeting its 2013 Board of Directors, which included the addition of one member — Ragan Fretwell — while Ladd Jordan, who had been serving as the board's vice president, is stepping down.

In addition, several clients were able to speak about what the more than 20 programs and services delivered through the agency have meant to them.

Among them was Alice Merritt, who spoke of her experience with the caregiver program that she utilized while caring for her husband, who passed away earlier this year.

She recalled being angry and frustrated, since caring for her spouse in that capacity was not the life she would have chosen for herself. The program allowed her to have respite time she would not have had otherwise.

"It gave me a chance to go to the movies, get a pedicure — and it afforded me the time to do nothing," Merritt said. "Most importantly, it gave me a platform to (express) my feelings ... and they listened to me.

"I'm thankful they stuck with me and gave me what I needed."

The council was established in 1966 and works to coordinate a system of services that promotes the well-being and independence of older and disabled residents, helping them to achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives. The organization covers a 14-county area in Southwest Georgia.


Date Posted: November 09, 2012
Tickets on sale Nov. 15, 2012


Date Posted: October 19, 2012
Look for this event again next year!


Date Posted: October 18, 2012
October 18, 2012

ALBANY HERALD, Jennifer Parks

ALBANY, Ga. — The SOWEGA Council on Aging has moved one step closer to getting a new senior center in Dougherty County.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday morning for the facility, which will be known as the Senior Life Enrichment Center, at the site of the former Byne Memorial Baptist Church property at 335 W. Society Ave.

The development of the new center, officials say, will allow the council to provide a broad scope of life-enhancing programs to those aged 50 and older in the area. The vision for the facility — which will house all of the services the council offers in Dougherty County — is to be a vibrant place where adults can come to socialize with friends, enjoy a meal and exercise their bodies and minds through fitness and educational programs.

Kay Hind, the council’s executive director, grew up not far away from where the facility is being constructed. The center’s fruition has been a vision she has had for at least 20 years.

This is going to give senior citizens a place to come in and enjoy all kinds of social events,” Hind said. “We are real proud of it and I am excited about the effort.

I’m obviously very happy about it.”

Hind said officials are hopeful that a ribbon cutting for the center will take place sometime around Christmas Day in 2013. The facilities there will include a commercial kitchen, a large dining room, fitness facility, computer lab, educational classrooms, social activity rooms and a craft room — and will serve as a hub for all the agency’s offices.

There are 14 counties under the council’s umbrella.

The total value of the project, once complete, will be more than $8 million. Yielding, Wakeford & McGee out of Albany and Flynn & Finderup out of Atlanta are serving as the architects, and LRA Constructors is the contractor for the project.

“I am excited because we are here for a groundbreaking at least 20 years in the making,” said Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard on Thursday. “We are going to be serving seniors and help them to be stronger and safer. I’m excited that there will be a center allowing social programs for us.

“This is going to be part of a cleanup effort for downtown. It takes a lot of hard work and partnership (to bring these kinds of projects) to fruition.”

Appearances were also made at the groundbreaking by Lorie Farkas, the council’s board president, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO Joel Wernick.

“(The dream of Kay Hind) has taken 20 years to take root,” said Farkas. “The dream was to create an exciting place for senior citizens to be safe. (The center) will be a gathering place not only senior citizens will be proud (to have), but that the whole community can use.”

Through the appropriations process, Bishop had a direct role in securing over $835,000 for the project.

“It was the singular vision and drive of Kay Hind that made this happen,” the congressman said. “She’s worked tirelessly and has been a passionate advocate for this senior center as long as I’ve known her.

“The dream is about to become a reality.”

Phoebe’s role in making the center come to life surfaced in 2008 when the hospital donated the former Byne site to SOWEGA for the agency to build the project on.

Wernick said at the groundbreaking that the decision to donate the land came from the recognition of the need as well as the confidence that the property would be well utilized.

“I know this land will be used for what it is intended for and that the generations after (will benefit from it),” he said.


Date Posted: August 28, 2012
Over 100 people attended this seminar. Speakers informed individuals how to detect, protect and report elder abuse and financial exploitation.

Register now!

FREE Lunch & Learn Seminar (229) 432-1124 (Space is limited)

Learn how to protect your Medicaid/Medicare benefits by detecting and reporting fraud and financial exploitation.  This event is open to anyone interested in this subject. (beneficiaries, professionals, caregivers)

Topics presented by:  Long Term Care Ombudsman, Law Enforcement, Senior Medicaid Patrol, and Adult Protective Services.


Date Posted: June 08, 2012
Seniors display art at Shades of Gold Art Show 2012

ALBANY, Ga. — Sixteen area seniors displayed their paintings and some of them took home ribbons Thursday at the 19th annual Shades of Gold Senior Art Show at The Albany Museum of Art.

The event marks the “climax” of the year, said Kay Hind, executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging, which sponsors the painters group.

“The Bible tells us we all have talents, and I hope that what I do glorifies the Lord,” said Carole Gum, who teaches painting to the group once each week. Gum insists she’s not an “art teacher,” in the strictest sense, but only volunteers her knowledge and experience to those who may be less advanced.

In 1987 she “discovered she could paint,” Gum said. She’d seen it done on television and thought it would be fun. Eventually she was asked to teach a COA seniors group. She’s done that now for 19 years and also serves as education workshop coordinator for the Georgia Artists Guild of Albany.

“The nice part about art is that it’s available to everybody,” Hind said. “This a real creative outlet for the members.”

According to Hind, even though the classes are repeated each year, many of the participants elect to re-enroll.

The Best of Show ribbon was awarded to Julia King for her entry, Bells Are Ringing; with Lenora Andre receiving first place for Colonel James G. Hampton. Lorene Gaughf took both second place and the People’s Choice Award for her painting, The Old Oaken Bucket, while Carol Stark was won third place for Don’t Even Think About It. The Merit Award was given to Juanita Chevallier for Working Late.

The competition was judged by Eric Brooks, Danny Singleton and Deborah Sanders, all of Camilla. All the judges are involved in creative professions which qualify them, Gum said.

The collection of more than 40 paintings by the Shades of Gold seniors art group is available for viewing during normal hours of the Albany Museum of Art at 311 Meadowlark Drive. The show is free to the public and will be displayed until June 28. For more information call the Albany Senior Center at (229) 435-6789.


Date Posted: June 05, 2012
Comedy Night benefits the Meals on Wheels program in Southwest Georgia. Thank you to all sponsors, talent, and guests for contributing to the success of this event, raising $42,000 for Meals on Wheels...helping us ensure that no senior goes hungry.

ALBANY, Ga. -- At 6-foot-2, it was Jeanne Robertson's height that first drew lots of attention to the then-Miss North Carolina at the 1963 Miss America Pageant.

But it was the beauty queen's wit and composure when making subsequent speeches that turned what seemed an offshoot of her moment in the spotlight into a 49-years-and-counting career that's heralded Robertson as one of the nation's most in-demand humorists.

"The week after I crowned the new Miss North Carolina (in 1964) at the end of my reign, I was asked to do three speeches," Robertson said. "I just took to it like a duck to water.

"And what started out as something cool to do for a short while has turned into a career that's been going on now for 49 years."

Southwest Georgians became familiar with Robertson's unique brand of humor two years ago when she entertained at a fundraiser for the SOWEGA Council on Aging. She was such a hit, in fact, at the sold-out show, when it came time to plan this year's seventh annual Comedy Night, a committee of Council on Aging supporters immediately insisted on a second helping.

"Jeanne's coming back to Albany by popular demand," council Development Director Izzie Sadler said. "When I met with a committee to start planning (Comedy Night) several months ago, all of the members started talking about how great Jeanne was. We decided to look into bringing her back.

"The first thing I did was call and see if she had new material she hadn't used her first time here. When I was assured she had all new stuff, I said 'Let's do it.' Before we'd even put tickets on sale, I had a list of people who'd asked me to reserve tickets for them because they'd heard through the grapevine that Jeanne was coming back."

Robertson will headline the Council on Aging's Comedy Night Aug. 7 at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. A limited number of dinner/performance tickets will be available for the 7 p.m. show. Proceeds from the performance will benefit the council's Meals on Wheels program.

The humorist's career as what she calls a "non-celebrity speaker" began innocently enough when meeting planners got wind of her talent as a convention speaker. It exploded five or so years ago when Sirius/XM radio's comedy channel sought and received permission to showcase her material.

A short while later, after Robertson posted clips from her speaking engagements on YouTube, she became something of a phenomenon.

"One of my neighbors' kids told me, 'Ms. Jeanne, you need to stay away from us. Mama says you've gone viral'," Robertson jokes. "We put those clips out there on YouTube, and all of a sudden we were getting millions of views.

"This was all amazing to me. I tell people when I started out, audiocassettes hadn't even been invented yet. I've just slowly figured out what would work for me."

In addition to garnering millions of views on YouTube and being featured 15 or so times a day on Sirius/XM, Robertson has also released seven increasingly popular DVDs.

"I'm not a comedian," she said. "I doubt that I could even tell a joke. I prefer to call myself a humorist. A humorist might be called on to make two or three specific points during a speech, while a comedian is simply out to get a major laugh at anyone's expense.

"People in Nashville have told me I should give up the convention business, that I have what it takes to sell tickets (on the comedy circuit). But I tell them 'Oh, no, that's my day job.' The convention business has been too good to me."

Tickets for Robertson's Comedy Night performance are on sale now at or at the Council on Aging's 1105 Palmyra Road offices. Information is available by calling (229) 432-1124.

General admission tickets are $30 apiece, while the dinner/performance combo tickets, which include a pre-show Italian feast at downtown Albany's Cafe 230, are $50.

"(Restaurant owner) B.J. Fletcher is giving part of the proceeds from the dinner to the Meals on Wheels program," Sadler said. "Tickets with dinner will be limited to the first 200 to purchase them."

Information about Robertson or clips of her humor are available at


Date Posted: May 07, 2012
2012 Martha Eaves Advocating for Positive Change Award goes to Lorie Farkas

Lorie has always promoted positive change in everything in which she has been involved.  She has a special place in her heart for older adults and knows the struggles that many seniors face.  Lorie takes her advocacy from the workplace to assisting the SOWEGA Council on Aging, Area Agency on Aging with its fundraising activities.  She has the unique ability to create such a vivid picture of the desperate plight many seniors face in struggling to buy medicines, food, and the other basic necessities of life.  Lorie has been writing Sowega Council on Aging’s annual holiday campaign letters for over 10 years generating thousands of dollars for services.


In addition to her letter-writing talent, Lorie was instrumental in beginning SOWEGA Council on Aging’s signature fundraising event in Dougherty County – “Comedy Night”.  Through her foresight and involvement, SOWEGA Council on Aging has raised over $158,00  allowing them to provide needed services and continuing advocacy for the aging and disability population.


Lorie has served on SOWEGA Council on Aging citizenry board for over 12 years and has been involved in many activities that improve the quality of life for the aging population. She has been president of the board of directors for the past 2 years.   Lorie has a saying that she uses frequently when speaking and advocating for positive change.  “Old Age is something everyone, no matter how rich or poor, will experience, and that everyone deserves “dignity and quality of life”.


Date Posted: May 07, 2012
Kay Hind Recognized in House of Representatives as the 2012 Distinguished Older Georgian


Click here to read article


Date Posted: March 15, 2012
Benefiting SOWEGA Council on Aging programs and services throughout 14 county service area

The  1st annual Juleps, Jockeys and Jazz event will be on May 5, 2012 at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club from 5:00-8:00 PM.

Tickets are on sale now.  $75.00 per person (Includes a complimentary memory photo, hors d'oeuvres, entertainment and more!)

ONLINE: check out the EVENT page on this website, click the "BUY TICKETS NOW" button to purchase securely online, or pay cash or check at 1105 Palmyra Road (229) 432-1124.

This is a "Kentucky Derby Event" with "Derby" themed activities, hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, Jazz music performed by Dr. T. Marshall Jones Jazz Quartet, "betting" games, and more...a FUN night benefiting a great cause!

Click here to view event details


Date Posted: September 30, 2010
The "Older Worker Network Conference" was held in Savannah, GA on Sept 10, 2010.

Older Worker of the Year
Lucille Crouch, from Albany, Ga, was named the Older Worker of the Year. Mrs. Crouch has been employed as the Meals on Wheels Coordinator for the SOWEGA Council on Aging for 37 years. She is the epitome of what all employees, young and old, should strive to be. Lucille is responsible for the entire process involved with the home delivered meals program. She sets up meals for packaging, takes and records food temperatures, and packages the meals. The Meals on Wheels program is dependant on volunteers to get the meals to the client’s homes in a timely basis and many times there are new volunteers who do not know the route. She greets and trains volunteers and is always ready with a map and detailed directions and phone numbers because she knows just how valuable that the volunteers’ time is. She is on time every day, organized, enthusiastic and is always willing to give assistance when needed. She is responsible for over 150 home delivered meals per day, while also caring for her husband who has been ill for many years and must have 24-hour care.


Date Posted: September 30, 2010
Older Worker Network Conference Announces J.R.'s Loving Care as Employer of the Year.

Employer of the Year
J.R.’s Loving Care Services provides quality and reliable home care services to the elderly and frail individuals who desire to maintain his/her independence while continuing to live in their own homes. J. R.’s Loving Care has been a repeat employer with Experience Works for over 6 years. They target the older worker for new hires because the older employees relate to the clientele, appreciate their job and are dependable and honest. The average length of employment for these mature workers is 4 years and 30% of employees are over the age of 55. J.R.’s Loving Care offers employees service training 3-4 times per year, gift certificates, flexible scheduling and insurance.


Date Posted: September 08, 2010
PROFILE Magazine features Southwest Georgia Council on Aging in its July/August 2010 edition.

In its July/August 2010 edition, Profile Magazine chronicles the growth of the SOWEGA Council on Aging from its beginnings as as fledgling organization with an annual budget of $8,000 to an organization that now employs 145 full- and part-time employees and operates on a $6.5 million annual budget.

Read the entire article (click here)





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