ALBANY HERALD — JENNIFER PARKS
CLICK HERE TO VIEW AT ALBANYHERALD.COM
A guest appearance by Georgia Department of Human Services Commissioner Robyn Crittenden and an overview of activities at the SOWEGA Council on Aging highlighted the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s annual meeting on Thursday.
Crittenden, in her remarks at the meeting Thursday at the Kay Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center, said a focus will be to ensure older adults have services that enable them to maintain a strong quality life and sense of dignity.
Specifically, she said, a movement will be put in motion to better connect the elderly in need to food stamps.
“In the coming months, you will see the agencies focus on senior hunger in our state,” she said.
Kay Hind, executive director for the SOWEGA Council on Aging, noted the events and programs from the past year, which included Tai Chi sessions, establishment of a community garden, rental of the senior center facility for outside events, the thriving of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the donation of air-conditioning units by the Dougherty County Rotary Club, annual fundraisers, and a visit from U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden.
The volunteer program has included the building of ramps on the homes of those who would otherwise be homebound, and the production of teddy bears for patients at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Empty Bowls and the annual comedy night have been among the fundraisers.
The next Empty Bowls event is set for Jan. 20 at the Albany Civic Center. There will be 400 tickets for 400 bowls available as part of a project designed to fight hunger and create awareness about it. It is a joint outreach of the Albany Area Arts Council and the Council on Aging.
At the meeting, there also was a slate of board members who were approved. They were Kim Lee, Melody Ellis, Tangela Campbell, Gayle Chapman, Lou Lee, Ragan Fretwell, Reba Stewart, William Collins, Chris Quick, Ervin Brock, Suzanne Perrine and James Carswell.
Sherman Willis, who has also served on the board, was presented the Martha Eaves Advocating for Positive Change Award for his role in bringing in Council on Aging Developmental Director Izzie Sadler and for advocating for the Senior Life Enrichment Center that opened in 2013.
The annual report showed that there is an elderly population in Southwest Georgia of 67,369. Of those, 25 percent reside in Dougherty County. The Council of Aging served 833 people residing in 14 Southwest Georgia counties in Fiscal Year 2015, the report showed.
Over the year, there were 107,029 congregate meals served. The Council on Aging has offered out-of-town trips, a farmer’s market, exercise classes, educational luncheons, art classes and other activities. In FY 2014, there were 21,763 hours of adult day care services provided, and in FY 2015, 769 people in Southwest Georgia were served with nursing home alternatives through the Community Care Service Program at a cost of $13.65 million, the annual report said.
The service area for elder abuse prevention includes 3,619 beds. One hundred and fourteen clients were served over the last year in homemaker services and 63 were served through the family caregiver program. There also were Medicare savings of $1.83 million generated for clients through Georgia Cares, the report said.