Fayette’s services to seniors face cuts; town hall meetings start Monday

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Please help us advocate for Fayette County’s seniors. Be informed. Be proactive. Know what’s at risk. Make plans to attend one of our upcoming “town hall” information meetings at Fayette Senior Services Life Enrichment Center, 4 Center Drive, Fayetteville.

• Monday, March 29 at 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

• Tuesday, March 30 at 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

• Wednesday, March 31 at 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Thursday, April 1 at 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Friday, April 2 at 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

• Refreshments served at each meeting.

Fayette Senior Services, Inc. (FSS), a non-profit 501(c)(3), operates the county’s only multipurpose Life Enrichment Center (senior center) for active adults age 50-plus.

But, our most important role, through a contract with the Atlanta Regional Commission and an agreement with the Fayette County Board of Commissioners, is to provide the management and delivery of social services to Fayette County’s older adult population.

These services include, but are not limited to, Meals On Wheels, congregate meal program, transportation, in-home personal care/homemaker services, case management, respite support, and adult day care.

With Georgia’s leaders embroiled in a budget crisis, the state funding that assists us with providing basic-need services that help Fayette County’s seniors maintain their dignity and independence will likely be reduced.

Similarly, this past year, financial support from our local governments was significantly reduced. With the budget shortfalls our local governments are facing, the threat of losing more local government support is even greater and this means that the services we provide to improve the quality of life for our community’s older adults is at risk of being reduced … or in some cases, eliminated.

Help us advocate for seniors. If you think that it’s unconscionable that a senior citizen in Fayette County will go hungry because they cannot afford a nutritious meal or they have a disability that makes the challenge of preparing a meal too great …

Or if you agree that it’s undignified that even one of our seniors has to leave the comfort of their own home and be forced into a state-run nursing home simply because they need a little assistance with bathing or housekeeping or cannot afford transportation to go to a doctor to maintain their health …

Please attend one of our town hall meetings.

Fayette County has the third fastest growing senior population in metro Atlanta. It is imperative that we ask our Fayette County commissioners to create a more equitable partnership with FSS to ensure we can continue to meet the diverse needs of our older adult population.

We must encourage our commissioners to take an innovative approach to the county’s budget and reallocate funds to provide reasonable support for the services that provide basic needs for seniors who are most at risk.

At the meetings we will share some of our recommendations that were submitted to the commissioners.

We further welcome the input of our members, and our stakeholders (the citizens of Fayette County) as to how we, as a community, will also work together to address the cost of providing these important services to Fayette County’s most vulnerable citizens.

The services we provide are compassionate, cost-effective, and critical to the health and welfare of seniors and their families in the community.

Beginning July 1, 2010, the cost to provide social services and operate the Life Enrichment Center (senior center) is estimated to be $1.3 million.

• Approximately 29 percent of our revenue comes from the federal and state government.

• 8.4 percent of our revenue comes from Fayette County government. By comparison, local government support for senior services among nine other metro Atlanta counties ranges from 33.6 percent to 82.1 percent.

• The demand for our social services has grown nearly 40 percent in less than one year. Of clients who receive one or more services, 39 percent live in unicorporated Fayette County, 31 percent live in Peachtree City, 24 percent live in Fayetteville, 4 percent live in Brooks, and 2 percent live in Tyrone.

We will provide you with important data, statistics, and other relevant information so you may make an informed decision as to how you believe our community should support seniors.

As we seek to enlighten the community, it is our desire to obtain your input so we may further develop forward-thinking solutions to address the diverse and complex needs of our aging population.

Please join us at one of our town hall meetings – our elected officials will be invited to attend.

The aging transition is one thing we all have in common and our entire community should fully understand the meaningful difference FSS has made to so many seniors, caregivers, and families in Fayette County to ensure that we will be here for generations to come.

Debbie Britt, executive director
Fayette Senior Services Life Enrichment Center
Fayetteville, Ga.