SARCOA gives back to the Wiregrass by assisting thousands of seniors and individuals with disabilities each year

There are more than 600 area agencies on aging across the nation who work to serve the elderly, and SARCOA is one of them.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 4:08 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - There are more than 600 area agencies on aging across the nation who work to serve the elderly, and the SARCOA Area Agency on Aging is one of them. By working under the framework of the Older Americans Act, which was passed in 1965, they offer a network of services.

“It’s important for people to know that wherever they live in the United States that there is an area agency for them to reach out to,” Terri Francis said.

SARCOA deliver that resource for Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties. They are on a quest to help aging and disabled individuals stay healthy, active, and what Francis said is most important: in their homes where they want to be.

Francis is the Director of Community Resources at SARCOA. She has been a part of this mission for nearly a decade.

“It’s a good feeling and I am just proud that we have SARCOA here in the Wiregrass,” Francis said. “I feel like we are still a well-kept secret and I want people to know please call us because we are here to help them.”

The agency serves over 9,500 older adults and people with disabilities each year. This does not include community care clients.

“We are very busy,” Francis said.

They stay busy supporting 36 active senior centers in the Wiregrass where they serve about 4,000 meals a month.

The agency also offers programs like health and wellness, budgeting, limited legal services for seniors, and assistance for caregivers.

“I want to make individuals in their later years just those years as happy as all of the years in their life,” Francis said.

Francis said one of their main resources is their Medicaid waiver program.

“This program is for those that qualify nursing home care but want to stay at home through the Medicaid waiver program,” Francis said. “We are currently serving 1,760 clients in the Wiregrass.”

Another popular program is Santa 4 Seniors. During the holiday season SARCOA partners with businesses and community members to give gifts of both wants and needs like cleaning supplies and groceries.

“The SARCOA team is phenomenal, we all roll up our sleeves and last year in 2022 we helped over 500 seniors in the Wiregrass area throughout the seven county region we serve,” Debra Hodgett, the outreach coordinator said.

Hodgett said one of their greatest tools for clients or future clients is the Senior Resource Directory the agency authors and publishes.

“A lot of our clients for SARCOA live in rural areas, they may not have Wi-Fi access or access to the internet,” Hodgett said. “So, having this resource directory is a great way to know all of the programs and the events we have at SARCOA.”

Hodgett said this is a rewarding job and a role she has always had the heart for.

“I grew up with my great aunt and my grandmother living in our home, we also had a young family, my mom and dad had a young family, so it was a multi-generational home so from an early age I just loved being around seniors,” Hodgett said. “I think we have a lot we can learn from them and they have offered so much to our community. They have served our community all their lives and we appreciate them.”

If you have questions about receiving assistance, or know someone who could qualify, Francis encourages you to call their office.

“As good advice as my mother would always say, ‘It never hurts to ask,’ so if you think you might need to call us, please call us,” Francis said. “We would love to talk to you and talk through any situation that you are in.”

When you call the agency an information specialist will guide you through an assessment.

“Some people may feel they just need one small thing but after talking to our information specialist they can hook them up with all kinds of resources that can be helpful for them,” Francis said.

SARCOA is in need of volunteers and said donations are always appreciated.

Click here to read more about SARCOA and to sign up for their newsletter.

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