OFA Endowment Fund Is Making A Difference

Happy Birthday Mac! In August, former Director Mac McCoy would have celebrated his birthday, and I decided this would be a good time to tell everyone about the status of the fund Office for the Aging has established in his honor.

As you may remember, we established this endowment fund with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation (CRCF) in April 2009 in order to give people the opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to help senior programs in Chautauqua County. The legislature graciously passed a resolution so that all proceeds from this fund will do just that. Previously, any donations to Office for the Aging had to be used in the same year to expand programs; they could not be saved for future use or an emerging need.

In addition, many clients and families who receive our services but are unable to donate during their lifetime were looking for a way to “pay it forward” to other seniors who are waiting for our services. The establishment of the Mac Mc Coy/OFA fund at CRCF allows families and former clients to name OFA as the recipient of memorial donations in honor of their loved one.

I am very pleased to report that through the generosity of seniors, senior clubs, families and friends of clients, and the continual fundraising efforts of the OFA staff, we now have more than $10,000 in the fund and our first check of $133 will be available this fall.

While we realize this first check is not a significant amount, we are extremely excited that the endowment is starting to give back in such a short time and we can expect a larger check each year as the fund grows. This is just one step OFA is taking to ensure that community-based services for seniors remain available in Chautauqua County to meet the growing needs of our exploding senior population.

A few years ago, I heard the assistant secretary for the Administration on Aging and Community Living, Kathleen Greenlee, speak at our National Conference, and she said that while the Older Americans Act (OAA) is a beautiful piece of legislation, we have to face the fact it is not growing and may never be large enough to meet all the needs of our seniors.

She advised OFA directors that in order to continue the good work of our Aging programs, we needed to develop new ways of doing business, new business partners and pursue new funding opportunities. OAA is our main source of funding through the federal government and it has not significantly increased in seven years despite the fact that the baby boomers are turning 65 and we have more people over 60 than under 18 in this country.

In addition, sequestration has cut “discretionary non-defense” spending into which OAA funding falls, and it does not look like Congress is going to take any action to straighten out the country’s financial situation anytime soon. So I have really taken to heart what Secretary Greenlee has said and have in consultation with my team and advisory council taken steps to move our organization in a direction that will not only increase services for seniors but will diversify our revenue sources decreasing our dependence on our traditional funding.

In addition to establishment of an endowment fund at CRCF, OFA recently began working for Medicare through our local hospitals to provide a new program available to Medicare Fee-for-Service beneficiaries. FFS is a payment model where services are unbundled and paid for separately. This program helps people by providing a coach to assist them as they transition from hospital to home or from short-term rehab to home. The Care Transitions coach walks a patient through their discharge plans, medication regimen and follow-up medical care to ensure they are getting all they need to continue on the path of recovery.

In addition, coaches can be an advocate for you if you are having difficulty once you get home and can link you with many community services if you get home and find you need help with meals, transportation or other community services. The Care Transitions coaching is a free service under Medicare and can be received in addition to homecare or any other services.

Right now, the service is only available to people with certain diagnoses and insurance type, but every hospital in Chautauqua County is participating so ask if you or your loved one is hospitalized if you can see the Care Transitions coach. Coaches come to the hospital every day to explain this new program and the benefits. You can also call your insurance provider to see if they can provide this valued service to you.

Another way OFA is working to expand services to seniors is through our Private Pay Personal Emergency Response Service (PERS) called Chautauqua County Medical Monitoring. We have all seen the commercials, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Well, these buttons that call for assistance if you fall or can’t get to the phone can really give seniors who live alone and their families the security that they will not be laying on the floor for days undiscovered. OFA has used our buying power to get everyone in Chautauqua County who needs this service a discount. Our program, through Doyle Medical Monitoring, offers basic PERS for $25/month with no additional installation fee. This is a lot less than seniors can get purchasing this service on their own. Please be aware that there are other PERS systems that offer different features so be sure to compare companies and prices and then select the system that is right for you.

Thank you to everyone who donated to the “Mac” McCoy/ Office for Aging Memorial Fund over the last year and to all our clients and friends who passed away this past year and designated OFA to receive donations in their memory.

Thank you for paying it forward and may your memory be eternal! Memorial Gifts in 2012 and 2013 were made in memory of Leonard Taddio, Mary Ell Faust, and Jan Madejski. A honorarium was received in honor of Mary and Joseph Vicario and in honor Judy Brentley, who retired from OFA in 2012. Donors for 2012-13 are: Mr. and Mr. Russell Diethrick, Mrs. Patricia Byham, Ms. Eileen Maloney, Mr. and Mrs. James Van Dyke, Mr. Doug Cable, Toni Daniels, Barbara Lucariello, Dr Salvator and Roslyn Vicaro, Rebecca Corll, Ethel Enserro, Judith Blitz, Chautauqua County Falconer Employees Association, June Steele, Chris Marsh, Liz and Mark Frederick, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Faust, Elisabeth and Tom Rankin, Brenda and Dick Wilson, the Rev. George and Ann Zervos, Pat Pacos, Kathleen Swanson, Nance Brant, Carrie and Greg Edwards, Wendy Douglas, Becky Hallberg, Maureen Langebartle, Marcia Bliss, Cheryl Van Riper and the OFA staff. For more information contact NY Connects 753-4582, 363-4582 or 661-7582. Stay well!