Council on Aging Looks Back Over Year


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Legislators conduct Kinship Care study meeting at SOWEGA Council on Aging


SOWEGA Council on Aging RSVP program makes Teddy Bears


The Rotary Club of Dougherty County Delivers Air Conditioning to Seniors in Need





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Date Posted: November 20, 2015
Council on Aging Looks Back Over Year



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.


Date Posted: October 20, 2015
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Date Posted: October 15, 2015
Legislators conduct Kinship Care study meeting at SOWEGA Council on Aging




Georgia lawmakers met with area officials Tuesday at the SOWEGA Council on Aging as part of a three-city study committee aimed at improving the lot of grandparents or other family members who are raising young children.

Heading up the group is state Rep. Stacey Y. Abrams, D-Atlanta, who earlier this year proposed HR 474, a bill to fund examination of a growing situation in which family members — often grandparents — care for children who are not their own, though with little state support.

In fact, according to Abrams, while Georgia has one of the largest and fastest-rising populations of such family situations — nearly 100,000 at last count — for reasons including death of the parents, military deployment or incarceration, the caregivers often receive less than half the funding that official foster parents get.

“The questions are, how do you help these families navigate the system and how do you help them afford to take care of the children?” Abrams said. “In the foster care program, you receive resources for food, clothing, transportation and respite care. People come and take care of you. The informal (family) system offers much less, or even nothing”

While funding is a major issue, Abrams said “legalities” can often pose difficulties for the well-meaning caregivers. For example, some of the children are drug-addicted at birth and may continue to have special needs. But schools and medical providers may not recognize the family members’ authority.

“There’s a process for special-needs children,” Abrams said, “But if you’re not the parent of record, if you don’t have legal custody, schools may or may not work with you. Caregivers may not even be able to sign doctors’ forms.”

Officials say the two main types of “kinship care” include private or informal care under an arrangement where extended family members raise the children without the involvement of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), and “public” kinship care, where families care for children involved with the child welfare system.

In either case, Abrams says, research has shown that children growing up in the generally more stable and nurturing homes provided by family members are less likely to experience behavioral problems, psychiatric disorders and school disruptions.

“More formality is not the goal we’re looking for,” Abrams said. “In creating a study group, we’re looking at whether we can create parity (with the foster system) and increase access to support. More than that, we want to make certain that as a state we’re doing what’s best for children because we want them to be with people who love them. That may not be the same as placing them in a foster care system.”

According to Abrams, the objective of the group’s community meetings is to hear comments from those involved with family members raising children not their own, and especially the elderly caregivers themselves, though such comments were absent from Tuesday’s meeting. Using information gathered, the group hopes to improve the situation for caregivers, Abrams said.

In addition to Abrams, Georgia lawmakers present at the meeting included state Reps. Tom Kirby, R-Loganville; Dexter Sharper, D-Valdosta, and Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson.

Other members of the study committee include state Reps. Karen Bennett, D-Stone Mountain; John Deffenbaugh, R-Lookout Mountain, and Sam Teasley, R-Marietta.

“This is a program that’s needed in Albany,” said Juanita Nixon, executive director of Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center, who spoke at the meeting. “We have so many grandparents here who need help, not only in dollars but in basic support from one day to the next.

“If we could all partner together and try to get some funds to get this program going, I think we’ll see better communication in schools and our community. Children can’t learn as well because they don’t have the tools they need.”

Before the Albany session, the study committee conducted meetings in Atlanta and Dalton, Abrams said. The representatives will later conduct a meeting in Savannah and one more in Atlanta before considering solutions to the issues.


Date Posted: September 14, 2015
SOWEGA Council on Aging RSVP program makes Teddy Bears



 Just before a small group Albany firefighters sat down on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to have lunch with the community’s seniors, they received a donation from a group whose members hope their contribution will be of significant benefit to the families the public safety personnel serve.

On Friday, representatives from both the Albany Fire Department and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital were at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center to be presented with more than 100 handmade teddy bears. The donors say they hope the toys will be used to provide comfort to children, including those in families affected by fires.

For the past 20 years, the “Teddy Bear Group,” comprising about 20 of the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program — or RSVP — volunteers, has been sewing 100 bears per week to donate to Phoebe. Funds for the supplies are provided by the hospital’s Volunteer Services department, and the teddy bears are given to children who are admitted into Phoebe.

This time, the bears were split into two shipments, one to the AFD and one to Phoebe.

“When one of our loved ones receives a bear, it just makes them feel better,” said Shella Dockery, a member of the teddy bear group.

Kay Hind, executive director of the Council on Aging, said there were 113 bears Friday.

“We thank you for everything you do,” Hind said to the firefighters who attended.

At least a few of the bears donated on Friday were made of fabric with fire trucks imprinted on it.

Suzanne Perrine, director of volunteer services at Phoebe, said the teddy bears made by the group usually benefit patients in several departments of the hospital.

RSVP is based primarily out of the council. The Council on Aging was established in 1966 and works to coordinate a system of services meant to promote the well-being and independence of older and disabled citizens, and helping them achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives within its 14-county service area.


Date Posted: August 20, 2015
Thanks to a District Grant and Matching Funds, the Rotary Club of Dougherty County Delivered Air Conditioning Units to Seniors in Need



The Dougherty County Rotary Club was at the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center Thursday to load air conditioning units and deliver them to seniors in need.

The club was able to purchase 28 window air conditioning units through its Rotary District Grant, worth about $4,000, that 15 club members were able to deliver on their lunch breaks.

The Council on Aging was prompted to establish a program to offer air conditioning units, not just because some seniors in the community are struggling financially, but also because these individuals are the most frail and therefore most prone to heat-related illness or death when an air conditioner is not available in a home during the summer months.

“At the Council on Aging, we carefully screen individuals to ensure they are in need of a unit,” said Izzie Sadler, development director with the council.

This screening process typically involves a phone interview followed by a visit to the individual’s house to fully assess the need, including confirmation that there is no air conditioning currently in the home. The recipient is then counseled on the impact the unit will have on his or her utility bills.

If a person is chosen to receive the unit, the recipient is then responsible for making arrangements to have it installed.

“The priority is to those in most need,” Sadler said.

The units were bought from Lowe’s and Home Depot at a discount, allowing more seniors to receive units through the club’s grant.

We do (a donation of units) every year, but it is based on funding … when someone brings us a new unit or writes a check,” said Sadler.

This is the biggest delivery of air conditioners done to date, officials at SOWEGA said.

“This helps seniors live more comfortably … I don’t think any of us want to live in a hot, steamy house,” Sadler said.Bil Sadler, president of the Dougherty Rotary Club, said the Rotary theme this year is to help seniors, prompting the club to contact the Council on Aging regarding a possible use of the grant from its district — which was when they discovered how much of a need existed.

After the club president came back from a delivery, he said the man receiving the unit he was dropping off welcomed it with a smile on his face.

“There was a fan, but it was blowing hot air,” he said. “It (the unit) will make a big difference (for him).”

The Rotarians are involved in other projects to help senior citizens in the area, including Santa for Seniors and a weekly meal delivery via Meals on Wheels.





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