Will brief legislators on O.F.A. programs, announce senior of year
Niagara County's new advocate for the elderly is undertaking a listening tour of the county's senior meal sites as part of the county's observance of Older Americans Month, and will spend Tuesday evening briefing county lawmakers on senior issues—as well as what seniors are saying about the services the county provides.
Ken Genewick, who took over as director of the Niagara County Office for the Aging in February, is partway through a tour of the 20 sites where the county provides senior nutrition services. Sitting down with the county's seniors at mealtime, he's been able to reassess his agency's focus. So far, he's talked with more than 200 seniors since the beginning of May.
"In order to celebrate Older Americans Month, our Office for the Aging is going out to all of our 20 nutrition sites in Niagara County to really create a dialogue with our seniors," Genewick said before heading off to a forum at the Dale Association in Lockport Friday. "I wanted to thank them for their support and participation in our programs and to educate them on the services that we're providing, but most importantly to get their feedback and their suggestions on how we can improve services for seniors in Niagara County."
Genewick noted that seniors had addressed a number of concerns, including the availability of transportation services in their communities, as well as outreach to seniors that are not currently availing themselves of Office for the Aging programs.
Genewick said he found that breaking bread with local seniors and talking face-to-face about program offerings has provided him useful feedback for planning his agency's thrust in coming budget years. It's also given him a chance to put his personal stamp of approval on the county's senior nutrition program.
"I've been sitting down with our seniors to sample our food and enjoy a lunch with them," Genewick noted. "We have a wonderful nutrition program that has well-balanced meals for all of our nutrition sites that our registered dietitian sets a menu for. Being able to sit down and enjoy a meal with our seniors has really been a nice experience, as has seeing what a positive impact these nutrition sites provide not only nutritionally, but also socially for our participants."
Genewick said he had visited seven sites and talked with more than 200 seniors since Older Americans Month kicked off May 1, part of a listening tour designed to help him move his agency forward a year after the death of his predecessor, Christopher Richbart.
"It's really refreshing to hear how active they are, and how our programs have been able to benefit them, but also to learn about what they see as priorities and needs that we are going to in turn really focus on in the services that we deliver," Genewick said. "We are really creating a dialogue with our participants, and educating them on the services that we have and getting their feedback on how we're doing."
Genewick noted that he was asking seniors for their feedback as consumers of his agency's services.
"We wanted to know what we can improve, and what they see as their biggest needs as a group that we can help address," he said.
Genewick plans to synopsize his findings, as well as provide an overview of the Office for the Aging's current programs and budget, at Tuesday night's meeting of the County Legislature.
"I will be presenting to the Legislature on behalf of Older Americans Month and to educate the Legislature and the community on the services that the Office for the Aging provides," Genewick said. "It's an informational tool for our county lawmakers when they consider budget priorities for next year, ensuring they have a full comprehension of what our services and goals are."
Genewick also plans to use the occasion to make one major announcement: he will reveal the name of the 2011 Senior of the Year, the county resident age 60 or older that is recognized for his or her positive impact on fellow citizens.
The remaining sites and dates for Genewick's listening tour are as follows:
Genewick's visits will coincide with regularly scheduled meal times at the sites.
For more information on Office for the Aging programs, Older Americans Month, or Genewick's listening tour, call the Niagara County Office for the Aging at 438-4020.