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Mar 22

St. Joseph County Commission on Aging Advisory Board approves 2020 annual report – Sturgis Journal

Members of the St. Joseph County Commission on Aging Advisory Board on Wednesday approved COAs 2020 annual report.

Pam Riley was not yet executive director in 2020, but outlined the work of COA during the year.

In her report, Riley called 2020 a year we will never forget. COA closed its doors March 23, 2020, due to the pandemic and there was no indication of when it might reopen, she said.

COAs focus was to continue to serve the frailest older adults by receiving food and other help in the home. A plan was put in place to provide a weeks worth of frozen meals and other food items to those who take part in the Meals on Wheels program. This minimized contact between drivers and the older adults to whom they were delivering. COA was overwhelmed with generosity by area businesses who contributed to Meals on Wheels during this time, Riley said. These included Midwest Energy, John Carmichael of GT Independence and Jim Stuck of Fibre Converters.

In July, congregate take-out meals began to beoffered and, thanks to UAW Local 2093, Thanksgiving meals were given to veterans on the Meals on Wheels routes. L.A. Caf in Three Rivers began a buy a meal, give a meal program which resulted in the caf donating 20 meals per week to clients. In 2020, the nutrition department provided 148,000 home-delivered meals and 31,000 congregate meals, of which approximately 85 percent were to-go.

In-home aides were furloughed for a short period during 2020. COA was able to provide emergency services to its most vulnerable clients who were homebound and had no family support. One aide was kept on staff and served about 25 individuals on a weekly basis for personal care tasks. In-home aides returned to their duties in June.

The emotional well-being of members was an area of concern for COA staff during this time. Isolation and loneliness can contribute to a rapid decline in health, Riley said. COAs Life Enrichment team began working with fitness instructors to provide exercise classes on Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube. The next step was to begin offering to-go craft kits, which was extremely popular, Riley said. Written instructions were given, and a demonstration video was available on Facebook. As the weather turned warmer, COA began to offer as many outdoor programs as it could.

COAs Kinship Care Support Group continued with about 250 hours of contact time with participants through phone calls while meetings were on hold. COAs annual holiday party could not be held in 2020, but the month of December included gifts, a hot breakfast to-go, fleece blankets and more.

Apartments at COAs Rivers Enrichment Center and Residence in Three Rivers had remained full in 2020, with a waiting list.

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St. Joseph County Commission on Aging Advisory Board approves 2020 annual report - Sturgis Journal

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