May 8, 2013

Balancing fun and serious matters

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH  — Laverne Ruth Olson was on a mission at the Senior Celebration held recently at the Senior Center in Plattsburgh: Get candy.

She visited the more than 30 vendors’ informational exhibits last week at the annual event sponsored by the Office for the Aging, the Nutrition Program for the Elderly and Joint Council for Economic Opportunity (JCEO).

Olson vied with her peers to win a prize from the many raffle drawings offered by event exhibitors. Prizes ranged from barbecue utensils, plants, lottery tree and a lantern.

“I hope I win a prize and hear about all these things,” said Olson, who lives in Plattsburgh.

“Right now, I’m at a stage I don’t need all of these different things.”

While browsing the vendors, she listened to the musical selections of Split Rock. Other bands on the bill included Backroads, The Castaways, and Frank and Gaylon. Emcee was Laurie Marvin, community-relations coordinator at Meadowbrook Healthcare.

“The activities consisted mostly of the bands,” said Patti Rauch, Senior Center program coordinator.

“They (seniors) really like the music and to dance. Now we have bands from beginning to end.”

Seniors fueled their dancing shoes with chicken Parmesan, a side of spaghetti and salad.

At the awards ceremony, the 90-plus tables received corsages and a plant. The Agency of the Year was awarded to Friends of the North Country. Business of the Year was awarded to Pine Harbor Assisted Living.

The Community Health Advocates Program, which is under the auspices of the Adirondack Health Institute, was one of the exhibitors.

The three-year-old program is grant-funded by the Affordable Care Act.

“The nice part for seniors, I don’t sell insurance,” said Erika Walker, a community-health advocate. 

“I want to sit and talk with them about the options that are available to go with their Medicare.”

Walker is the go-to person for an explanation of the different parts of Medicare: A, B, C and D.

“I also help them with finding a prescription plan. I take a look at someone’s prescriptions and all the plans that are available, and we will see what ones fit them best.”

The Community Health Advocates Program serves seniors in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties.

“It’s increasing with word of mouth and doing outreach events,” Walker said of the program. “The reason why is I don’t want their money. I’m an advocate for seniors. With seniors who are low income, I will find if they’re eligible for any Medicare Savings Programs, where they can get help paying their Part B premium.”

Friends Martha Barcomb, Grace Jabut and Mary Johnson were seated in the second row listening to the music. The trio has attended every Senior Celebration since its inception 19 years ago.

“I was a volunteer at JECO,” Barcomb said.

“I used to work for JCEO,” Jabut said.

“I used to be on the board of JCEO,” Johnson said. 

Each year, they look forward to the Senior Celebration to visit with acquaintances, make new ones and for the music … at this moment, Split Rock.

Email Robin



WHAT: Community Health Advocates Program

ADDRESS: 9 Carey Road, Queensbury, NY 12804.

CONTACT: Erika Walker at 761-0300, Ext. 3152, or