May is Older Americans Month which has been celebrated in our nation since 1963. It's the perfect time to show our appreciation for older adults, and to spotlight the important role older adults play in sharing their experience, wisdom, and the understanding of passing on their knowledge to other generations in a variety of significant ways.
My name is Bruce Heikkila and I serve on the Marquette County Commission. I also represent the board at a number of other agencies in Marquette County. One of those agencies is the Aging Services Committee. Over the past several years, county administrative expenses for the senior programs have been cut by over 60 percent.
These savings have gone directly into senior services, and area program directors have been using them very diligently. The theme for Older Americans Month 2012 is it's "Never too old to play!" Marquette County has many organizations that provide invaluable services to it's seniors, and I would like to share the names of those organizations and what they provide for our community. The value that older adults bring to our communities through spirited participation in social and faith groups, service organizations, and other activities will be recognized during this year's celebrations.
There are four senior centers in Marquette County (Gwinn, Ishpeming, Negaunee and Marquette). These centers provide a number of services, such as:
Senior Centers also provide a place for seniors to gather to eat a meal, play cards and games and participate in planned activities. To contact your local Senior Center call: Julie in Gwinn at 346-9862, Elyse in Ishpeming at 485-5527, Kristy in Negaunee at 475-6266, and Jane in Marquette at 228-0456.
Other senior services include:
I'd like to share a story with you showing how one social worker's actions made a huge difference in a person's life. A senior contacted the Financial Assistance Program and requested some help with financial problems she was having regarding her vehicle and bills. This person did not want to impose on her family. Her income was between $950 - $1,000 a month. The social worker looked into the co-pays she was paying to Medicare and discovered she was eligible for less co-pays at a reduced Medicare payment. This small change amounted to her saving approximately $400 per month, or almost $5,000 per year. This savings allowed her to fix her car, regain her independence and also start a savings plan.
So, let's all extend a very heart-felt thank you to all the dedicated organizations and individuals involved in all our senior services. Most importantly, thank you seniors for sharing your knowledge, history, contributions, achievements and volunteerism in our community. It's always a good time to acknowledge the work of those helping our seniors. Older Americans Month is the time to celebrate what they do and remember that we're Never Too Old to Play!
Editor's note: Bruce Heikkila is vice chairman of the Marquette County Board and a Aging Services Committee member.