MASON COUNTY — Mason County residents are being asked for their assistance in keeping senior citizen programs at the forefront of the upcoming West Virginia Legislative Session.
Mason County Action Group (MCAG) Executive Director Renae Riffle asked citizens in the latest newsletter, “The Senior Scene,” to call their local representatives prior to the start of the legislative session on Jan. 10. Calls should request the delegates and senators to keep their focus on funding the senior programs and to make them a priority.
Riffle said MCAG has been providing programs for over 50 years that allow seniors to remain in their homes instead of moving to assisted living or nursing home facilities. Meals-on-Wheels is one such program. It provides seniors, who are unable to travel to the senior centers, with a delivered meal on weekdays. In addition, the In-Home Care program assists seniors needing help with personal care, housekeeping, and running errands.
MCAG recently began providing transportation, after a long hiatus, for seniors having doctor appointments, medical treatment appointments, or needing a ride to the Gene Salem Senior Center.
The action group contracts with the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services and the Metro Area Agency on Aging for grants to provide programs, Riffle said. The problem, she continued, is the funding does not always cover the expenses.
Seniors receiving Meals-on-Wheels and those eating lunches at the county’s two senior centers are asked for a suggested meal donation of anywhere from $1.50 to $3, based on their income. Riffle said many are on fixed incomes, however, and find it difficult to donate. No senior is ever denied a meal due to inability to pay, she emphasized.
The MCAG staff raises funds throughout the year by holding various events, including dances and the annual March for Meals Bingo, set this year for March 2.
Even though these events help offset some expenses, Riffle said help is still needed on the state level. She said she has already spoken with some of the local representatives, and will be a part of the delegation from the state director’s association that will visit when the session begins in Charleston.
Keeping the senior centers open and remaining a viable source of assistance for the county’s older population are top priorities for the MCAG. Others are recouping lost funding and combating rising costs.
Residents can help by making short telephone calls to the following representatives who cover Mason County, telling them senior programs are important, according to Riffle. Representatives and their telephone numbers are: Senator Mitch Carmichael, 304-357-7801; Senator Mark Drennan, 304-357-7901; Delegate Scott Brewer, 304-340-3146; Delegate Jim Butler, 304-340-3199; and Delegate Joshua Higginbotham, 304-340-3118.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.