“This renewal does include a small increase of $1.75 to the owner of a $100,000 home to $16.55 a year. However, it will generate just over $612,000 a year for the agency and continue to supply the funds needed to keep it functioning,” executive director Roxanne Sandles said.
“Just for comparison, that $16.55 annually would provide 5 1/2 meals for a senior because the suggested donation is $3 per meal,” she added. “$16.55 equates to $1.38 a month.”
Services for Aging, Inc. does business as Senior Enrichment Services (SES), which isn’t a county agency. It has provided services for Huron County residents who are 60 years old and older for more than 45 years. In the late 1960s, a county-wide task force performed a needs-assessment of the elderly population and in 1972, Services for Aging was incorporated as a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.
“We want to make sure we have continuous operation revenue in order to maintain services with the possibility of a new building. The operating levy has nothing to do with the building,” Sandles said. “(The levy) is needed to continue providing … vital services to our seniors who have given so much to Huron County, no matter where we are located.”
Renovating the Willard facility and plans for a new SES building in Norwalk are on hold until the levy passes. The tax collection would begin in 2020.
“If the levy does not pass in November, we have two opportunities to go back on the ballot,” Sandles said, noting the board of directors then would “have some tough choices to make.”
“The voters have been very generous with us. We are very blessed,” she added.
County residents also have been generous in their support of SES. It earned first place for a non-profit organization in the Norwalk Reflector Readers’ Choice Awards.
“We are excited and grateful for that,” Sandles said. “It shows (us) the community has a lot of faith and confidence in Senior Enrichment Services and what services we provide to them.”
The “senior levy” helps supplement the following services: Three food programs, Senior Express, Medicare assistance and Age Exchange.
• Food programs: They include Meals on Wheels for Norwalk, home-delivered meals for the entire county and in- house dining at the Norwalk and Willard centers.
SES serves 280 meals a day Monday through Friday.
“Our delivered meal program also offers a (well-being) check for seniors. In 2017, we provided 63,205 meals to Huron County residents,” Sandles said.
• Senior Express: This provides transportation on a donation basis within the county. It is a door-to-door service, where the driver assists seniors from the doors of their homes to the doors of their destinations.
Senior Express currently has a fleet of six vehicles equipped with wheelchair lifts. In 2017, it provided 14,833 rides and drove 127,839 miles, mainly to medical appointments, but also for shopping, visits to friends, community activities, social activities and lunch at the Norwalk or Willard centers.
“All the drivers are kind and helpful. They make sure I am comfortable. They get me where I need to go because I cannot drive anymore,” one regular rider told SES.
• Medicare assistance: This is provided to help seniors navigate the maze of Medicare options.
“Our social service coordinator is certified through the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) and is always available to help those (who are) 60 and older,” Sandles said.
• Age Exchange: An intergenerational program that began in January 1993, it partners seniors with elementary-school students in first through third grades for after-school mentoring and training. The adults also help the children master social skills.
Each year, 40 total students split evenly from Norwalk and Willard are chosen by school officials to participate. Each child is matched with a senior throughout the academic year.
“These are the core services that Services for Aging, Inc. provides in Huron County to our 60 and older citizens, but we also provide other activities and programs important to keep seniors engaged and active. These include the lunch-and-learn series, the ambassador volunteer group, stained glass and watercolor classes, Tai Chi, yoga and many others,” Sandles said.
Norwalk residents Fred and Annabelle Hespeler — recently awarded “Outstanding Senior Citizens” — have been doing Age Exchange since its inception. Citing feedback from program coordinator Pam Schaffer, Sandles said the health of couple, who are in their 90s, is better because the program keeps them active. Fred Hespeler owned a Norwalk gas station and when he retired, he worked for Don Tester Ford and EHOVE Career Center. He and his wife have five daughters.
Anyone who is interested in more information about the levy is encouraged to call Roxanne Sandles at 419-668-6245 or a board member. The board includes: Marilyn Dillon, Tom Fries, Jim Grover, Janice Knadler, Jane Nottke, Roger Miller, Pat Moffatt, Bonnie Scheerer, Ralph Seward, Ellen Simmons, Paula Wiers, Nancy White and Sharon Wingert.