AAA calls for increased state funding | Local

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With the cost of business increasing, the Tri-County Regional Agency on Aging (AAA) would like to see its public funding increased, the agency’s executive director, Connie Brode, noted at the council’s biweekly meeting. citizens’ advisory.

The session, which was attended by delegates from various seniors’ centers in the three counties, was held Friday morning at the Hopewell Area Seniors’ Center and led by council chairwoman Prudence Harclerode.

Noting that the agency has not seen an increase in its annual block grant funding in several years, Brode pointed to growth in operating expenses for several of its important departments.

“We continue to see increases in the cost of providing services to seniors in Huntingdon, Bedford and Fulton counties, while our annual block grant funding remains the same each year,” Brode explained.

The agency, which provides a host of valuable services to seniors, from congregate meals to transportation, is set to receive $3,121,983 from the state, the same funding it has received in recent years. In addition to salaries, the block grant helps pay for a host of health services that older people in the region depend on.

One of those services includes senior center operations in all three counties, a critical program that is still reeling from the aftermath of COVID-19, Brode added.

Although people are returning in small numbers to their respective senior centers, those numbers remain low, said Bobbi Manges, director of the senior center. “Elders need to be together,” she noted. “And senior centers are the place to do that.”

Manges went on to say that attendance at the center’s activities continues to be low, but the numbers continue to rise steadily. Responding to a survey by a member of the Fulton County Advisory Board, Brode and Manges suggested that media advertisements about the variety of services offered at senior centers could be a response to the increase in center attendance.

Manges said a second round of state funding is earmarked for senior centers this year, including financial assistance for part-time and full-time operations.

New activities are also planned at the centers this year, including two-day health promotion courses starting this summer with similar health-related activities planned for the 2022-23 financial year.

Regarding the agency’s popular CART transportation program, the agency’s director of transportation, Anthony Molinari, told board members that $1.2 million in funding will help pay for four new buses. CART and six minivans that will be ordered for use later this year. Eighty percent of the funds come from the federal government and 20% from the state.

Molinari said the agency will seek stabilization funds from PennDOT for the Tri-County Transportation Program to address the steep increase in fuel and maintenance costs.

In response to a request from PennDOT, the agency will create a transportation advisory council that will focus on transportation-related issues.

Molinari also informed the advisory board that some changes to the agency’s transportation dispatch and communications operations will take place under the Ecolane program with staff training planned for the future.

Manges and Brode shared details of several upcoming senior activities, including:

– The Bedford County Young at Heart Games will be held in Bedford County at Bedford Colonial Court, April 25-May 13. The AAA is co-host of the activity.

– Bedford County “Day of Caring” activities are scheduled for Thursday, May 12, sponsored by United Way of Bedford County Inc. and the Regional Agency on Aging. For more information and to submit a project request, contact the Centraide office at 814-624-0041.

– Senior Expo, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20 at the Smithfield Fire Station. During the event, seniors will have the opportunity to visit various local, state and federal agencies and organizations offering information on programs and services available to seniors (free lunch and raffle prizes will also be offered .) The event is sponsored by Rep. Rich Irvin, Penn Highlands Healthcare, First National Bank and AAA.

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