Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Advocating for Seniors

Fulton County government recently held open-to-the-public budget hearing meetings in order to obtain feedback from the community. The meetings were held throughout the county to ensure citizen involvement. I attended one of the meetings and invited a CareShare client to join me. It took just a bit of her time, and mine, but our voices were heard. We advocated for the need for continued services for seniors throughout the county as well as asking for increased funding and services due to the growing senior population – the boomers have arrived!

We all can advocate for the senior cause even when we are not at a formal meeting. I encourage everyone to always be talking about the need of our seniors – seniors whom have built our communities and now find themselves in need of supportive services. Advocating can even be talking to a friend, prodding them to support SCS and our seniors through monetary donations or giving of their valuable time serving as a volunteer.

I challenge everyone to speak up for the senior cause in your own unique way. Take action on this advocacy by getting involved and seeing firsthand what the seniors in our shared community so desperately need. The best way to do this is to volunteer to deliver meals through our Meals On Wheels Atlanta program. SCS has a large volunteer base; however, it has shrunk in the past year. Each volunteer hour equates to $18.05 per hour, which is a valuable cost saving expense for the program. We thank each and every individual who helps us through this program and others.

Volunteers also attended all of the seven Fulton County budget meetings. These volunteers, some are clients and others are interested stakeholders of our programs, were amazing. They told their stories of the value that they receive from the programs and that there is a greater need out in our community.

Interestingly enough, it is much less expensive to provide in-home services to seniors rather than to place them into institutional care, such as nursing homes. Seniors in nursing homes represent 3% of the total population receiving federal support yet this group accounts for half the dollars expended. The other 97% are seniors who are living in their own homes. This shows the importance of services provided by SCS and our volunteers – helping seniors to remain independent in their own homes. Remember, too, that these funds are generated through all of our taxes; we must continue to advocate for in-home services for the senior cause in order to get the biggest “bang” for our buck.

We invite you to join us in the senior cause… how will you help?

- by Patrick O'Kane
Director of Operations

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