United Way holds town halls to hear senior service priorities

Birmingham Alabama
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Birmingham Alabama
United Way Area Agency on Aging of Jefferson County Town Hall Meeting – photo by United Way of Central Alabama

United Way’s Area Agency on Aging of Jefferson County held two town hall meetings this Monday where members of the community were able to share their questions, comments and concerns regarding area senior citizens.

The purpose of the meetings was to provide a public forum for members of the community to voice their opinions on senior services. Attendees included members of the older adult and disabled populations, as well as representatives from area nonprofits and agencies that benefit senior citizens.

The 10 a.m. meeting, held at the Central branch of the Birmingham Public Library, and the 6 p.m. meeting, held at the Five Points West branch, both saw active participation from community members and the staff of UWAAA and Collaborative Solutions, a community impact organization.

Karla Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Community Initiatives said “the Collaborative Solutions team moderated the town hall meetings and will use the information obtained to develop a three year strategic plan to help serve seniors in Jefferson County.”

“The public hearing component is a really important part of the process,” said Kim Richardson, member of the Collaborative Solutions team. “It gives the opportunity for members of the public, whether they are consumers of services, caregivers or organizations that represent the population that we’re working to serve, to have input directly with the process and the priorities that are established as part of the plan.”

Birmingham Alabama
United Way Area Agency on Aging of Jefferson County Town Hall Meeting – photo by United Way of Central Alabama

A strategic plan will map out the next three years of care for seniors through collaborative efforts like the town hall forum, administrative meetings and additional research into Jefferson County’s needs. It will contain demographic information, as well as list the services available to senior citizens and the partnerships that UWAAA holds with other groups in the community that serve seniors.

“I’m very impressed with [the moderators’] knowledge and how they received us here at the meeting,” said attendee and retired Marine Leland Osby. “Overall, I think it’s a wonderful program. I’m glad I came, and I intend to get involved and do what I can to assist.”

Other meeting points covered information on insurance plan cost sharing and a summary of the Alabama Department of Senior Services’ goals for the next three years. The goals include ensuring the elderly’s access to information, empowering older and disabled adults to remain in the least restrictive environment possible and stay active and healthy, enabling more Alabamians to live with dignity by reducing the incidents of abuse and neglect, and promoting proactive and progressive management of the State Unit on Aging and its contracting agencies.

“As far as the future goes,” said Helen Anderson, Executive Director of UWAAA, “we would love to continue to hold town halls so that we can receive feedback from the community and make sure that we’re meeting the needs of seniors in all areas of Jefferson County.”

Anderson expressed optimism for the program moving forward, and noted how exciting and encouraging it is to see community members take the initiative to attend town hall meetings.

Under the direction of the Alabama Department of Senior Services, the United Way Area Agency on Aging (UWAAA) of Jefferson County, implements a wide range of programs and provides counseling and information about available resources to senior citizens, people with disabilities and caregivers. Through a comprehensive and coordinated system, UWAAA is enhancing lives in meaningful ways – from providing hot, nutritious meals and monitoring long-term care facilities to training caregivers and helping individuals take full advantage of their Medicare benefits. For more information visit www.uwaaa.org or call 1-800-AGE-LINE (1-800-243-5463).

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.