SOWEGA Council on Aging RSVP program makes Teddy Bears


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


Comedy Night - an evening with Mark Lowry & Stan Whitmire


USDA DEPUTY SECRETARY, Krysta Harden, a Camilla native, tours SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center


The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging awarded Hind with the Excellence in Leadership Award 2015





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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.


Date Posted: July 29, 2015
The 10th Annual Comedy Night a success for Meals on Wheels



 — While helping the homebound senior citizens of Southwest Georgia with a meal delivery, the annual SOWEGA Council on Aging Comedy Night set for next month is expected to be a family friendly affair with plenty of laughs.

The headline attraction will be Mark Lowry, best known as a Christian comedian who is a baritone singer with the Gaither Vocal Band and comedic sidekick to Bill Gaither. He’s a favorite on the Gaither Homecoming series concert tours and video series. He is an author and songwriter, whose best known lyrics are for the song “Mary Did You Know?”

The 10th annual event, set for 7 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the Albany Municipal Auditorium at 200 N. Jackson St., will benefit the Meals on Wheels program coordinated through the Council on Aging.

“This is a fundraiser for us for our Meals on Wheels program,” said Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind. “We just got cut in that area under the Older Americans Act.

“I like Comedy Night, and I think it is good for the community to have a real good laugh.”

Lowry will be accompanied by pianist Stan Whitmire.

The combination of comedy and music “is different from what we have done in the past,” said Izzie Sadler, developmental director with SOWEGA.

Lowry, in a recent phone interview with The Albany Herald, said that — especially since he is now in his late 50s — the senior citizen age group is one he likes most to entertain, and one to which is he beginning to relate.

“I’m aging, and everyone is,” he said. “Baby boomers are now hitting senior citizen age.”

Like many other comedians, Lowry takes his material from his own life, which means that “the joke’s always been on me.”

The majority of his audiences have been either been the young or senior citizens. Every audience is a little bit different, so in many cases, an act is structured based on what that particular audience might relate to.

“When I see them, I may be able to sense” the direction for the Albany show, Lowry said.

Whitmire usually provides music to help open up the show before Lowry comes out, the comedian said.

“If they (audience members) have a pulse, you can communicate with them,” Lowry said. “As long as they speak English, I can communicate with them. It’s a night for everybody … I think everyone will enjoy it.”

The fundraiser, the most significant of the year for the council, has gained momentum through increased community support. This has allowed coordinators to book someone who is more well known while also making sure there is enough in the proceeds to make the effort worthwhile.

The goal this year is to raise $30,000-$40,000 for the 14-county area that SOWEGA serves so the Meals on Wheels program can continue to assist 960 people in getting the 187,000 meals delivered to them annually that they otherwise might miss.

“We serve a 14-county area and every county has a Meals on Wheels,” Hind said. “It is not limited to Albany. This will benefit all of those in the service area who get it.”

Sponsors, which have come through with the help of the council’s board, have been key, since the Comedy Night ticket prices alone are not enough to make the event successful.

“Every year, we have made a little more money and promoted it more,” said Hind.

While the money helps, the event has also built more awareness about what the Council on Aging does — in turn expanding its volunteer base.

“It builds a relationship between us and the community,” Sadler said.

This year, there is the advantage of having a comedian who already has a following in Southwest Georgia.

“Everybody has said he is fantastic,” Sadler said.

Continuing Meals on Wheels, SOWEGA officials say, allows for more than a meal delivery. It also provides a daily welfare check.

“That is equally important,” Hind said.

The reserved seats on the ground level of the auditorium have already sold out, but general admission seating in the balcony remains open at $20 each. Dr. Doug Lorber with Albany Audiology and Hearing Aid Center will be serving as the master of ceremonies for the event.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit or call (229) 435-6789. Individuals can also stop by the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave.


Date Posted: July 27, 2015
Krysta Harden, a Camilla native, tours SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center



-- Some Albany area seniors entertained a special guest Monday when U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden visited the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Senior Life Enrichment Center to see what the organization is doing to help the plight of those who are struggling with the effects of poverty.

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Harden’s visit is part of the White House Rural Council’s “Rural Impact” effort, which is a coordinated campaign across federal agencies to improve the quality of life and upward mobility of children and families in rural communities.

“It’s really a focus of this administration and the White House to look at poverty, poverty for our kids in rural areas, poverty for our adults in rural areas, so I’m just learning from some of the folks here,” said Harden. “Unfortunately Georgia is fourth in the country for citizens with food insecurity and fifth for our kids. And Dougherty County in particular is second, I believe in Georgia, with citizens with food insecurity.”

Georgia has a 19 percent poverty rate, with 27 percent of Georgia children living in poverty. In Dougherty County, nearly one in three residents live in poverty.

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden takes of sniff of some peppers being grown in the community garden at Albany's SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

As someone who grew up in a farming family in Southwest Georgia, Harden spoke passionately about her concerns about food insecurity for people surrounded by food.

“What’s troubling to me as the daughter of a farmer who grew up right down the road in Mitchell County, I grew up with an abundance of food, I see it growing everywhere,” she said. “I know there’s the best famers in the country, maybe the world, right down here. Then you think about our neighbors, our friends, just right around the corner who might not know where their food is coming from or how they’re going to feed their kids and family.”

With seniors being one of the demographics that struggles with having access to food, Harden made it a point to visit the Senior Life Enrichment Center which administers the council on aging’s Meals on Wheels (MOW) program in Albany.

According to information provided by Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging, MOW provides roughly 200 meals a day in Albany alone, while the council’s congregate program, where seniors who are able to physically come to the center to eat, provides an additional 60-100 meals daily.

Overall the SOWEGA Council on Aging serves approximately 960 people in 14 counties and provides an average of 187,000 meals to seniors annually through its nutrition program.

Krysta Harden, deputy secretary of the USDA, chats with the SOWEGA Council on Aging's Rosa Huggins about the food she is preparing for guests at the council's Senior Life Enrichment Center. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

“Unfortunately (food insecurity) really is (a big issue) with a lot of seniors,” said Harden. “And they’re very prideful people and they don’t want to ask for help.”

Harden added that many seniors struggle daily trying to decide whether to spend money on bills, medicine or food, which makes programs like those offered by the Council on Aging important.

Harden said she is impressed with the council’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which features seniors volunteering their time to provide services to other seniors. RSVP volunteers give of their time in a variety of different ways including taking meals on wheels, and spending time with seniors at the senior life center. One particular group helps build access ramps for seniors at their homes.

“There’s just so many different ways that you can give back to your community,” said Harden. “We have some seniors here who say, ‘I have food, I’m in good health, I have what I need. I want to give back to my neighbors and friends who don’t.’ And it really is what’s best about Southwest Georgia and Albany.”

Even with so many volunteers willing to work to make a difference, Harden said more has to be done to make sure citizens throughout Southwest Georgia and the entire country, have enough to eat.

“This is not something that the federal government’s going to solve or the state government or even the local government,” said Harden. “It’s going to take us all. Its starts with awareness, it starts with understanding the issues and then thinking about solutions. How do we make sure that here in the land of plenty, and certainly in an area that grows a lot of food for folks in our area and all over the country, how are we going to make sure that everyone down here has access to that?”


Date Posted: July 13, 2015
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging awarded Hind with the Excellence in Leadership Award 2015



-- A woman who has spent more than four decades trying improve upon the services offered to senior citizens in Southwest Georgia has been honored on a national level.

SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind received an “Excellence in Leadership” award this past week at a National Association of Area Agencies on Aging conference in Philadelphia.

“There were over 900 people at this conference,” said Hind. “I think this is the first time they have given out this particular award. “I’ll admit, I was excited.”

It is a conference Hind usually attends every year. She learned she would be receiving the award when she got a call from the coordinators of the conference after they noticed she had not yet registered.

“I’m very pleased with it,” Hind said.

In her 46 years working on behalf of senior citizens, Hind said she served on the national board as an alternate for four years and as a full board member the following four years.

Her longevity of service aside, including advocacy at the Georgia state level, Hind said her selection may have been influenced by her role in establishing the 45,000-square-foot Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center near downtown Albany.

The center, which took two decades and roughly $10 million to come to fruition, is more advanced than most aging agencies have access to, she said.“The quality of the programs we have here really stand out in the field,” she said.

Such recognition, she added, also helps when it becomes necessary to apply for the grants needed to keep services going.

“It is one more thing to give us credibility when applying for grants,” Hind said. “We will continue to do that.”

Among her other recent accolades have included a lifetime achievement award she received from the Georgia Aging Network in 2013.





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