Elderly citizens don't want budgets cuts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Elderly citizens don't want budgets cuts

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

January 27 , 2009

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - We've all felt the impact of this economic recession. Thousands are losing jobs, even local and state government are cutting budgets.

But those budget cuts could have a major impact on some people who will have no where else to turn. The funding for Meals on Wheels and other Senior Citizen programs has been slashed.

It's quite possibly the best part of Mamie Gibson's day. "I socialize here, I have friends here and I get a good hot meal here," she said.

But in his proposed budget, Governor Perdue has slashed the budget SOWEGA Council on Aging would receive for nutritional funding. And with major budget cuts, come major changes.

"I don't know what we're going to do," said Gibson.

Kay Hind is the executive Director for the Council on Aging. Each day, 700 people in 14 counties are served meals with the Meals on Wheels program. Many of them, may have to be cut off. 500 meals are served in senior centers like this one. Starting now, no new clients will be accepted, including emergency cases, not even hospice, unless they can pay.

"We will be cutting off a lot of clients," Hind predicted.

Gibson says it's just not fair. "Leave the budget as it is. Certainly not cut seniors. Have they forgotten what we've done for them? For the community over the years? Have they forgotten? They going to just not help us? That's not right."

Hind says what's more, is that the cuts are retroactive, back to the beginning of this fiscal year. "We've already spent most of the money and that means they'll be nothing left from now to July."

And more cuts are expected for the upcoming budget. "No. No. Shouldn't do that. Why should they hurt seniors? We have done so much for the community and we have served faithfully. Why hurt us in our later years? That's not right. Not right."

Clients who have meals home delivered who have family that can help them will be cut off first. If more cuts are made, more seniors may be left out.

On Thursday, there will be a rally on the steps of the Capital in Atlanta, called "Be There 4 Seniors."

All Seniors are invited to attend and rally for these services not to be cut. It will be held at 11:00 AM.