Seniors thank legislators for funding

Published 2:19 am Monday, February 22, 2016

Senior centers across the state, one of them located in Beaufort County, recently joined a statewide effort to thank legislators for funding.

The North Carolina Senior Center Alliance (NCSCA), an organization for senior center professionals to advocate for senior centers and seniors, coordinated seniors sending Valentine’s Day cards to legislators. Belhaven Senior Center participated in the mass mailing, as did 99 other centers across the state, to express appreciation for funding and placing continued senior center funding at the forefront for future legislative action, according to a NCSCA press release.

Federal, state and local funding is vital to senior center programming and allows older adults to participate in free or low-cost affordable activities and access needed services, the release said.

According to Annette Eubanks, director of Area Agency on Aging, area senior centers receive money from the state, as well as from the federal Home and Community Care grant through the Older Americans Act, making it possible for the centers to stay open. Federal funding is funneled to the county and dispersed to centers in Beaufort County through the Department of Social Services, according to Eubanks.

The agency works with centers in Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin and Pitt counties. Both centers in Beaufort County — the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center and the Belhaven Senior Center — received $11,600 from the state and a 25 percent local match of $3,800, Eubanks said.

“The funding is used for general operations of the centers,” Eubanks said. “They can use it for any kind of operation or programming. I think (the Valentine’s Day cards program) was a great initiative. Funding is not promised. Every year, we’re threatened a little more. It’s imperative for the centers to have that funding for their operations.”

Eubanks said, however, the centers only get the funding if they are certified centers, which both in Beaufort County are. In fact, both centers are considered centers of excellence, which help determine the level of funding they receive.

According to Carolyne Everett, supervisor at Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center in Washington, the funding is very important in providing information and assistance to the seniors it serves. It provides a means for seniors to access resources to help with costs associated with healthcare and prescriptions. It also provides caregivers with help in purchasing adult diapers, liquid nutrition and supportive equipment like grab bars and ramps for handicapped accessibility.

The funding streams also allow centers to host exercise classes and evidence-based programs, educating seniors on issues they may be dealing with such as chronic disease self-management, arthritis, balance and other programs that help seniors learn to be safer and healthier, Everett said.