Senior Services Coalition: Part II

As previously reported, I attended a meeting of the Senior Services Coalition of Greater Williamsburg (SSC) on October 23, 2009.

As a result of that meeting, I wanted to learn more about what this group expects to contribute to the plight of our local (Williamsburg, Virginia) Older-Americans in the coming years.

The foremost question I have is:  What is this group really trying to achieve that is different from what is already being done?

From my initial contact, it appears to me that the paid membership is comprised entirely of organizations (for profit or non-profit) that,  in some way,  provide services to or somehow affect or oversee services and resources for the older consumer.  There is a reduced membership fee for individuals, however, I believe the fee ($50 per year) to be prohibitive for those citizens who are affected the most and who could contribute valuable user-information from their life experience.

At this time, it also appears to me that the work of this organization is being done upon the older community rather than along with it.  My question:  How can the issues that are affecting seniors be addressed accurately and with the passions of need and immediacy if you are not in intimate, on-going contact with those who are affected?  It seems to me that the result of efforts done independent of the target community would tend to benefit the organizers at the expense of the target.

I had to quell these concerns by looking at what the Coalition has done so far and how what they want to do is described.

On their website: is a great deal of information that I was seeking.

I learned that the SSC was created to:  Priority #1: provide opportunity to network (among other providers of senior services).  Matters covered in meetings would be to plan collaborative activities and to become informed of the status of programs.  Initially, therefore, the SSC was focusing on three (3) issues affecting seniors:

1.  Employment

2.  Addiction

3.  Housing

Evidently, Issue 1 is satisfied by the Williamsburg Workforce Center and The United Way and Issue 2 is handled by the Historic Triangle Substance Abuse Coalition.  I’m left wondering if SSC has any muscle to intercede on behalf of the elders who are not amply served by those organizations.

On the face of things, I do not see a focused, concentrated effort on the SSC’s part to gather information specific to Seniors relative to Issues 1 and 2.  How many seniors have been served in the past year?  Current year?  Age range?  Particular problems addressed?  Service provided?  Follow-up?  Results in each case.  Feedback from affected seniors. 

Does the SSC see as part of their service/mission gathering information on how seniors are served with current resources?

The only way the community can evaluate the value and function of service providers is to know WHAT has been done.  The only way the community can know WHAT deficiencies exist in services is to know the results.  If the SSC would develop Base Line Accomplishments for Seniors NOW, that information would be instrumental in creating more effective systems for an ever-increasing population of needy consumers.

In my next post, I will discuss in more depth the Impact Issues identified by the Community Action Plan on Aging (CAPOA).

Are you or someone you know affected by the Older-American services provided and the resources available (or need to be available) where you live?

Do you have suggestions on what I need to research in order to help wherever and however I can in this process?

Thank you.

Explore posts in the same categories: Community Plans: Older-Americans, Senior Living

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