Group focuses on seniors

By GRACE THORNTON / Special to the Reporter

Across Shelby County, many senior adults teeter on the line of being placed in nursing homes because of their tottery steps, rickety stairs or empty pantries – and no one to come and help them.

But a countywide initiative called Net/Works – a partnership of the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging, United Way of Central Alabama and Positive Maturity – is aimed at giving them the help they need to stay independent.

“The funding for senior services continues to decline as the population continues to grow, and that’s a recipe for disaster,” said Shirley Worthington, project director and vice president of Community Initiatives, United Way of Central Alabama. “We want to harness the goodwill and caring of people in Shelby County so that we can address these needs and not have someone in an unsafe situation or alone with no one to check on them.”

A Senior Issues Focus Group met July 20 in Calera to find ways to organize volunteer efforts – especially faith-based ones – in Shelby County into a single force to help those on the county’s waiting lists for help, Worthington said.

A cross-section of about 20 people from the county, area churches and agencies and senior centers met and divided into subcommittees to work to engage the faith community and identify seniors who need assistance.

“There are many organizations such as local churches who have the volunteers and resources to help but don’t know where or who to help. This will help channel them through a central point to the people who need them,” she said.

Some of the needs, she noted, are meals on wheels, friendly visits, transportation to medical appointments and minor home repairs.

The group, which has been meeting since October 2006, hopes to have a community development specialist hired by August and will have a follow-up meeting in six weeks to prepare the initiative for launch.

For more information, contact the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging at 670-5770