By SUSAN TOBIAS
---- — MALONE — The programs that take care of senior citizens in Franklin County shifted earlier this year, but the transition was so smooth that hardly anyone noticed.
When it became evident that the Retired Senior Volunteer Program had to be dissolved, Director Susan Schrader stepped up to the challenge to make sure the seniors were covered with continuing services through the Association of Senior Citizens and the newly named Senior Volunteer Program.
“It was January this year when the transition took place,” said Schrader. “When the former ASC director resigned, we had to dissolve RSVP for a lot of reasons; plus it was a conflict of interest for me to administer both programs.”
The only approval needed to dissolve RSVP and institute the Senior Volunteer Program under the Office for the Aging and the Association of Senior Citizens was from their local boards.
“With mandates that came down from the state that RSVP had to offer certain programs that we couldn‘t afford without grants, we knew we could not meet our seniors needs, and something had to change,” Schrader said.
The Senior Volunteer Program receives funding from the Franklin County Legislature. Members hold many fundraisers, including michigan day and Chinese auctions at the County Courthouse once a month. They also sell books, postcards and jewelry and host book sales. It all adds up to make sure senior programs continue.
“We are on the road to building up again,” said Pat Manchester, Association of Senior Citizens Board president. “We’ve spent lots of time reorganizing and looking at how we can serve our seniors better.”
With a budget of $1,286,893 for nutrition and senior services, Schrader also oversees $725,125 that covers the handicap-accessible public-transportation program.
Manchester and Schrader credit the directors at the eight senior centers for avoiding any problems during the transition. The centers are not only responsible for meals and socialization, they also help seniors with HEAP, Medicare and other applications.
At present, the Association of Senior Citizens needs volunteers to help distribute Meals-on-Wheels. Anyone interested in helping, for which there is reimbursement at 50 cents a mile, can check at the centers in Fort Covington, Constable, St. Regis Falls, Brushton, Burke, Malone, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.
New this year was the Fall Festival, sponsored by the association at 4H Camp Overlook. Replacing the annual brunch held in the past, it surpassed any ideas of success the program directors could have ever imagined.
“It was so good to hear people say they hadn’t been to the camp since they were kids or when they dropped their own kids off there years ago,” said Schrader. “It was a beautiful day. Even the drive up there was pretty.”
With everyone working so hard to fulfill the goals of the Association of Senior Citizens, many ideas are being considered, including a menu committee that would suggest meals for the sites.
The program welcomes feedback from seniors to add to or improve programs, officials said.
“Everything is moving in a positive direction,” said Office for the Aging Director Susan Scott. “It’s bringing the whole county together, and that’s wonderful for our seniors.”
Email Susan Tobias: firstname.lastname@example.org