By Leigh Ann Rutledge
May is Older Americans Month and the 2018 theme is “Engage at Every Age.”
FACT: Ohio has the sixth largest older adult population in the nation.
FACT: One in five Ohioans is age 60 or older.
FACT: The Carroll County Senior Citizens Friendship Center can assist seniors in many ways.
The Carroll County Senior Citizens Friendship Center could be considered a “hidden gem”; a place everyone has heard of but few know much about. The center was built in 1977, on ground donated by the Carroll County Agricultural Society. A 26×60-foot addition for a conference/recreation room and two offices were added in 1984.
The Friendship Center welcomed the new year with a new director and assistant director, Tonya Myers and Jenna Aukerman.
Myers is a lifelong county resident who has worked with seniors the majority of her adult life. She worked for Carroll County for 14 years, beginning as a deputy clerk in Municipal Court with the late Judge Charles Johnston. Moving to the Department of Job and Family Services, she served as a receptionist, case manager and was responsible for Nursing Home Eligibility and Medicaid services.
She worked out of the county for five years when she was given an opportunity by Sarah Sonego, a nursing home administrator. Myers was able to join the health care network and learn yet another aspect of how to help the older community and their families to transition in an often difficult process called aging.
“It was honestly such a blessing to work for Sarah,” said Myers. “She was an amazing boss and taught me so much that has prepared me for this position.”
Her goal has always been to help seniors transition as easy as possible through the various stages.
Myers’ interest in helping seniors can be attributed to her Grandma Howell who was a nurse and worked in nursing homes. She notes she has both her grandmas with her everyday at work. The recreation room has a lending library, where she is reminded of her Grandma Moreland who was the librarian at Bell-Herron Middle School.
“There are so many options to help seniors here,” she stated. “I feel like I’ve come home to my dream job.”
Tonya lives in Carrollton with husband, David. Three stepchildren and 10 grandchildren complete their family.
Aukerman moved to Carrollton five years ago with husband, Mike, a teacher and coach with Carrollton Schools. They have two children.
She worked at Huntington Bank, starting as a teller and working up to investment representative. She has experience with running the fiscal aspect of the center, and working with the public.
“I wanted to stay in the county and be close to everything,” she stated. “Plus I wanted to be somewhere with a purpose, to make a difference.”
The board interviewed applicants for each job separately but Myers states, “They couldn’t have picked a better match. I have the senior experience and Jenna knows the financial aspect. We blend together very well.”
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
The Carroll County Council on Aging, Inc. operates the Friendship Center. Their mission is “To aid and assist the citizens of Carroll County, age 60 and over, to meet unaddressed needs to remain in their own home as long as possible.”
Their goal is not only to serve nutritious food, but offer daily activities and socialization.
Services offered include:
- On-Site Dining: A meal is available daily at 11:30 a.m. in the Friendship Center, along with two off-site nutrition sites. The congregate meals are a $2 donation and are fresh, homemade meals, often featuring in-season fruits and vegetables. A birthday dinner is held once a month and costs $3. Reservations are required. The other nutrition sites are located at Malvern Senior Center, 121 Wood St. (inside the Methodist Church) and Sherrodsville Lions Club, 80 Hill St. The sites serve around 75-100 meals daily. Meals are prepared at the center and delivered by drivers. For reservations, call Malvern at 330-205-6654 (dial “1” if using a landline) or Sherrodsville at 740-269-2200. All reservations are due before 8:30 a.m. Coffee and donuts are available daily at all three sites. In 2017, 16,046 meals were served at the three nutrition sites.
- Home Delivered Meals: The delivery service is available to home-bound seniors, (on a permanent basis or recovering from surgery, etc.) or those who can no longer drive. Four drivers deliver meals throughout the county Monday through Friday. Cost is $2 donation per day. Those who have Medicaid or Passport may qualify for free meals. Each Thursday, clients have the option to receive two frozen meals for the weekend. In 2017, 40,977 meals were served through home delivery.
- Wellness Check: This works in conjunction with the home delivered meals program. Drivers will check on the well-being of seniors when they deliver meals. If they have concerns, they will contact the emergency contact in the senior’s file and/or 911 immediately.
- Transportation: The center will help schedule and fund transportation for county seniors through Carroll County Transit for doctor’s appointments, in and outside of the county. Seniors living within the village of Carrollton can use Transit for general errands, also.
- Supplemental Food for Seniors: The program is a federally funded program administered by the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and is income and age based. Recipients must be 60 years of age or above and have a gross monthly income at or below the guidelines provided. A food box includes: four cans of vegetables, two cans of fruit, two cartons of shelf-stable milk, two bottles of juice, two cereal items; a can of beef stew or chili, peanut butter, two bags of pasta and two pounds of cheese. Call the Center to be placed on the waiting list. The program will open again in September.
- Other services include: information and referral, mature services, Golden Buckeye card applications, blood pressure checks, health chats with Carroll County Visiting Nurses last Monday of each month, legal services (beginning January until funds expire) and more.
- Rental Options: The large community room is available to rent for family gatherings, meetings, etc. Call the Senior Center for details.
FUN & GAMES
The Friendship Center offers a variety of activities for seniors.
New activities have been added including: Cards with the Cook, first Friday of each month; Rug Rats, a rug making class taught by Liz Moser; and Spring Stollers – walking at the fairgrounds (weather permitting) at 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays.
Movie of the Month is held the second Friday of each month and includes popcorn and an ice cream treat. “The Greatest Showman” will be shown May 11 at 12:15 p.m.
Activities held each month (call center for times): Monday-Golden Sneakers, exercise class, health chat; Tuesday-Golden Sneakers, quilters, Tai Chi; Wednesday-Line dancing, bingo, bridge; Thursday-Tai Chi, Bingo, Euchre, Rug Rats; and Friday-Golden Sneakers, Cards with the Cook, movie.
- SENIOR DAY – During Older American Month, Senior Day will be held May 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the center. The theme is “You are my Sunshine.” During the morning, seniors can play a variety of games, such as Minute to Win It, The Price is Right, Jeopardy, Wii, cornhole, etc. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. followed by entertainment by country singer, Jon King from 12:15-1:15 p.m. There will be raffles, door prizes and a drawing for a Pottsy Flower. Tickets for a chance to win the flower are a $1 each and are available at the Senior Center. Tickets for Senior Day are $3 per person (if eating lunch).
Many of the programs are funded through The Friendship Center levy. It is a huge part of keeping the center up and running. The 5-mill renewal levy will be on the Nov. 6 ballot and will not be any additional cost to homeowners.
Funding is also provided by Area Agency on Aging, Region 9, Passport, Title 3 and state and federal funding. Tax deductible contributions also assist with providing reliable quality services to senior citizens living in Carroll County.
“We have a really good group of staff who work well together like a well oiled-machine,” stated Myers.
The center is a very active place with clientele in their 60s and above, Myers added.
“The staff is really involved in community service or family organizations as well,” added Aukerman.
Staff includes: Sherry Casper, data entry and information and referral; Janice Nape, head cook; Danielle Titus, Malvern Nutrition Site; Cheryl Moffat, Sherrodsville Nutrition Site; Deb Toussant, assistant cook; Cindy Sandefur, kitchen; Freda Luyster, Patty Babe, Jim Kiefer and Julie Maple, home delivered meals drivers; Annette Welch and Tom Barnett, sub drivers; Lisa Rininger, sub driver and maintenance; Susan Anderson, Malvern site sub; and Cheryl Milasky, Mature Services, along with Earl Catrell, who has been a senior volunteer for over 12 years.
The Carroll County Council on Aging, Inc. meets the first Thursday of each month at 10 a.m. Board members include: Donna Walters, president; Susan Ziler, vice president; Beulah Bland, secretary; Ruth Ann Tinlin, treasurer; and Roberta Eckley, Ollie Scott and Doris Logan, trustees.
The Carroll County Senior Friendship Center is located at 100 Kensington Rd., Carrollton. Office hours are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 330-627-7017 or 330-627-7205.
Daily menus and other information can be found on the newly created Facebook page: www.facebook. com/CarrolltonFriendshipCenter.