Federal funding brings good news to aging services

Federal funding brings good news to aging services
SOWEGA Council on Aging will benefit from the 2018 budget bill signed last week. (Source: WALB)
Marilyn Ellis is in one of the senior programs at SOWEGA and has been for five years. (Source: WALB)
Marilyn Ellis is in one of the senior programs at SOWEGA and has been for five years. (Source: WALB)
The Meals on Wheels program is one of the leading aging services for the Council. (Source: WALB)
The Meals on Wheels program is one of the leading aging services for the Council. (Source: WALB)
A handful of programs at SOWEGA will get increases from federal funding. (Source: WALB)
A handful of programs at SOWEGA will get increases from federal funding. (Source: WALB)
Nearly 20 programs will continue because of the funding and the organization's fundraisers. (Source: WALB)
Nearly 20 programs will continue because of the funding and the organization's fundraisers. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There's significant new money for senior service programs throughout Southwest Georgia thanks to a huge 2018 budget bill Congress passed last week.

Prior to President Donald Trump signing the bill, several federal funding programs had been slated for cuts or elimination but they have been preserved and will now receive more money. This brings good news for local senior adults and families who rely on aging service programs every day.

"Without this program, my life would be more austere," said SOWEGA Senior Community Service Employment Program participant Marilyn Ellis.

Ellis has been in the training workforce program for years, which was recently on the chopping block to get eliminated by administration, and now it will not.

"We got funding instead of a cut, so that is amazing. These millions of dollars in funding that is going to area agencies on aging across the nation is wonderful news," said SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Debbie Blanton.

Over 10 programs were going to be eliminated or cut. Major programs like the Home Delivered Nutrition Program also known as Meals on Wheels, the Senior Community Service Employment Program and the Medicare State Health Insurance Program known as SHIP.

"South Georgia is statewide, we have some of the poorest older adults living in our area. So the need for meals, transportation, socialization is great," explained Blanton.

So the new funding will be beneficial to 20 of the organization's programs in 14 counties.

"Even though this sounds like a huge amount of money that's coming to the aging programs and it is and we appreciate that, there's never enough," said Blanton.

So they have fundraisers throughout the year to support the programs that help the community.

Now life for individuals like Ellis will continue to change.

"I wouldn't have a washing machine and a lot of other things, little small things that just contributes to making life a joy," said Ellis.

The organization said it is grateful for the funds but will have an upcoming fundraiser to support senior hunger. It will host a Serving up Meals tennis tournament April 13 through April 15 at the Doublegate Country Club.

For more information on how to sign-up for the tennis tournament, call (229) 432-1124.

Copyright 2018 WALB. All rights reserved.