(Editors: This is the second in a series of releases about Older Americans that will be sent during May. Today’s release features older Kentuckians and community involvement.)
Frankfort, KY (May 12, 2004) – May is recognized as Older Americans Month with this year’s theme being Aging Well, Living Well. Part of living well as we age revolves around staying active in our communities.
“We are often made aware of the health and economic needs of our elderly population, and rightly so. However we need also to recognize the contributions that Kentucky’s elderly are making to enable our communities to become more livable,” said Jerry Whitley, executive director, Office of Aging Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Below are some examples of programs in which Kentucky seniors participate to serve and shape their communities.
- Aging advisory councils provide leadership at the local and state levels in regard to aging and long term care, including the Institute for Aging to advise state government on health and social services, the Special Advisory Commission of Senior Citizens with 100 members to advise the General Assembly, and 15 local Area Agency on Aging Advisory Councils plan community-based programs.
- The Certified Retirement Community Program was established in Kentucky in 2001. The Commerce Cabinet leads the program with the assistance of state and local partners. This program emphasizes the many advantages of attracting seniors to local communities. Retirees strengthen the cultural, social, and economic resources of a community, bringing with them a lifetime of experience, interests, and expertise. To date, eight communities have been certified as retirement communities.
- The Mayfield-Graves County Senior Center, through a partnership with Longfellow Elementary School, coordinates a senior volunteer program to serve at-risk first-graders. Twenty-one senior volunteers work with 21 at-risk children to teach them to read. By serving as role models, and developing a mentoring relationship, this group of seniors is making a significant impact on the lives of these children.
- The Paducah-McCracken County Senior Center’s RSVP program works with the family court system by providing volunteers called “Golden Grannies” to provide child care services to families while they attend family court sessions. They also provide services to special needs children in child care facilities.
The Paducah Retirees Association Chapter of the Tennessee Valley Retirees Association provides volunteers who train and teach children about water safety. They have taught water safety to over 2,000 elementary school aged children this year through partnership with the Red Cross. The Chapter also has volunteers trained for FEMA work, staffing the TVA Visitors Center at Kentucky Dam, and teaching Personal Water Craft Safety to older youth. Participation is limited to retirees only.
- Big Sandy Area Senior Centers in southeastern Kentucky have emphasized and facilitated senior involvement in a number of local projects, including fund-raising for the Big Sandy Child Advocacy Center, local walks for the American Cancer Society, fiscal court and city council meetings, the Human Services Coordinating Council, service on boards for local organizations such as health departments, and participation in planning and hearings for Route 66.
- A group of seniors in the Northern Kentucky area formed the Senior Ambassadors volunteer network. These seniors volunteer at the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Airport to greet travelers as planes arrive and depart. They provide information about the services at the airport and the local area. This public service is free and serves to enhance the positive image of Kentucky to our visitors.
- The Campbell County Senior Center plans to open a wellness fitness center later this year. This is an addition to the present building site located at 3504 Alexandria Pike, Highland Heights. The new center is being made possible through a partnership grant between Campbell County Senior Center and Northern Kentucky University. This grant program, Energize Your Life is for seniors suffering from strokes, heart attacks or bone fractures to receive therapy.
- Northern Kentucky Senior Advocacy Groups educate the senior community on the prescription drug programs.
- In a rural community in Grayson County, part of the Lincoln Trail Area Aging Agency district, Mary Glenn Searcy, and Mike and Pat Boone, retired residents, staff a volunteer food bank. It operates solely on volunteer power, offering food, counseling services, and community referrals, which are very much needed in this rural community. Searcy, who is in her late 70’s, volunteers for many local projects in addition to her full-time job as a community action coordinator.
- In Hardin County Dot Hanson continues to work through church missions to help people in her community. She participates in literacy programs, assists refugee families transition into the community, provides transportation to clinics for those with medical needs, and is working with a local coalition toward a clinic for working uninsured people.
“These are but a few examples of senior involvement in Kentucky. There are many other programs based in senior centers, with RSVP, AARP, retired teachers, retired government employees, environmental organizations, social support agencies, churches, and other groups through which seniors make positive, caring, and productive contributions to the well-being of their communities every day,” said Whitley.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming involved in any of these community programs, contact your local area aging office.
Note to Editors: Attached is a list of the area aging agencies for more information on one of the regional programs.
Purchase AAA, Mayfield, serving Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken; Vicki Williams, (270) 251-6114 or 1-800-866-4213.
Pennyrile AAA, Hopkinsville, serving Caldwell, Christian, Crittenden, Hopkins, Livingston, Lyon, Muhlenberg, Todd and Trigg; Brenda Orten, (270) 886-9484 or 1-800-928-7233
Green River AAA, Owensboro, serving Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union and Webster; Bill Cooper, (270) 926-4433 or 1-800-928-9094.
Barren River AAA, Bowling Green, serving Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Hart, Logan, Metcalf, Monroe, Simpson and Warren; Debbie McCarty, (270) 781-2381 or 1-800-598-2381.
Lincoln Trail AAA, Elizabethtown, serving Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington; Nancy Addington, (270) 769-2393 or 1-800-264-0393.
Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency, Louisville, serving Bullitt, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble; Barbara Gordon, (502) 266-6084.
Northern Kentucky AAA, Florence, serving Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton; Carol Marek, (859) 283-1885.
Buffalo Trace AAA, Maysville, serving Bracken, Fleming, Lewis, Mason and Robertson; Caroline Ullery, (606) 564-6894 or 1-800-998-4347.
Gateway AAA, Owingsville, serving Bath, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan and Rowan; Charles Jones, (606) 674-6355.
FIVCO AAA, Catlettsburg, serving Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup and Lawrence; Karen Rice-Sizemore, (606) 739-5191 or 1-800-499-5191.
Big Sandy AAA, Prestonsburg, serving Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin and Pike; Donna Frazier (606) 886-2375 or 1-800-737-2723.
Kentucky River AAA, Hazard, serving Breathitt, Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe; Peggy Roll, (606) 436-3158 or 1-800-928-5723.
Cumberland Valley AAA, London, serving Bell, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Rockcastle and Whitley; Bernice Miracle, (606) 864-7391 or 1-800-795-7654.
Lake Cumberland AAA, Russell Springs, serving Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, Taylor and Wayne; Cindy Branscum, (270) 866-4200 or 1-800-264-7093.
Bluegrass AAA, Lexington, serving Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Franklin, Garrard, Harrison, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer, Nicholas, Powell, Scott and Woodford; Rhonda Davis, (859) 269-8021.