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Agency on Aging to mark 35 years July 9

By Angela Spencer

This article was published June 26, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

floyd-king-from-left-beverly-ray-gail-stone-pearl-ruuska-and-martha-apostle-chat-after-lunch-at-the-cherokee-village-senior-center

Floyd King, from left, Beverly Ray, Gail Stone, Pearl Ruuska and Martha Apostle chat after lunch at the Cherokee Village Senior Center.

BATESVILLE — The White River Area Agency on Aging is one of eight agencies in the state serving senior citizens by providing assistance and information on various subjects, including getting to doctor’s appointments, filling out paperwork and making new friends.

The Agency on Aging will celebrate its 35th anniversary July 9, and Executive Director Ted Hall said many people in the coverage area — Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, White and Woodruff counties — do not know what resources are available through the agency.

“Our primary focus is serving our clients,” he said. “We do a lot of different things, including housing, assisted living, and it’s all about seniors. We’re kind of the senior experts, I would say. The difference that we do is, we bring in a case manager to meet with those involved in the decision making to help them figure out the plan of action that would be best for their loved one.”

Programs and services provided by the agency include senior centers, home care, assisted living, housing assistance, personal emergency response and volunteer ombudsmen.

“If someone has a loved one, we’re the place to come and find out information about services,” Hall said. “When somebody asks me why we’re here, the No. 1 reason is that we’ve got quality people who really make a difference. That’s a pretty satisfying deal.”

Peggy Pearce, information and assistance specialist for the agency, said it serves as a first contact for seniors and their loved ones in finding those services.

“I’d like the community to know us as the entry point if they’re looking for information or for services for an elderly person,” she said.

Hall said the agency employs more than 600 people, including home-care assistants, care managers and other service providers.

The home-care assistants are important to helping seniors live in their own homes as long as possible, Hall said, and the agency provides personal care and homemaker services to help seniors with bathing, dressing, meal preparation, essential shopping and light housework.

“They are where the rubber meets the road,” Hall said of the home-care assistants. “They’re the ones doing the services that help keep people at home as long as possible. We could not do what we do without them.”

The White River Area Agency on Aging’s anniversary celebration will kick off July 9 at the central office at 3998 Harrison St. in Batesville, but Hall said there will be events in other counties the agency works in for the next six weeks.

Starting at 10 a.m. July 9, the celebration will include hamburgers and hot dogs free to the public and a short ceremony. State and local officials have been invited, and members of the Batesville Chamber of Commerce will be present for the ceremony.

Also during the ceremony, the agency will honor Cassie Creighton, who served on the agency’s board of directors from September 1993 until her death in January 2013. She was president of the board for 16 years.

For more information on the White River Area Agency on Aging, visit www.wraaa.com or call (800) 382-3205.

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

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