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Agency on Aging representatives defend request

Group under investigation asks for $70,000 to continue operations, providing services

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Two representatives of the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging came to Tuesday night's outside agency budget work session with the county Board of Supervisors, bringing with them justification for their $70,000 request.

"I'm sure you all know our situation," said Cindy Palmer, the SAAA's interim executive director, referencing the financial irregularities that were discovered last year at the agency.

She said that now the agency is back to providing its "core services" to area seniors, and added that staff members have cut their hours and are paying 20 percent of their insurance.

"Most of us have really stepped up to try and help with this financial situation," Palmer said.

Last year, the agency asked for $70,000, but was only allocated $40,000, according to Roberta Lauder, the director of resource development.

"We are committed to providing the at-home services to area seniors," Lauder said, noting that at-home care benefits citizens, as their tax money would go toward care of patients who might otherwise end up in a nursing home or hospital.

Lauder said that any additional funds that the county could give would go toward taking seniors off the waiting lists for the Meals on Wheels, personal care and housekeeping assistance programs. There are currently a total of 21 senior citizens in Warren County on the three waiting lists.

While Lauder called the Meals on Wheels service a "no brainer," she recognized that the personal care and housekeeping assistance are not as well known.

Many clients require these services due to medical issues like arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's, to name a few. She said that providing these regular services helps to keep seniors out of the hospital and helps them to "retain their dignity," and many times result in a better outcome than if they went into a nursing home.

Lauder went on to tell a story about one woman the agency helped by installing a wheelchair ramp and providing her with further means to stay at home. Because of the help, the woman was able to watch her granddaughter every day after school.
"This kept a family unit in place," she said. "In that larger sense, we are supporting the community."

Lauder also dismissed any rumors that the requested funds would go toward the agency's legal fees, and said that any money allocated by the county would go toward direct services for seniors.

"We have been working very hard to overcome the current circumstances," she said. "We look forward to moving beyond them and continuing to help area seniors in need."


Core services that are continuing at the Active Living Centers,are being provided by business's and donations secured by the seniors and others.They are ( SAAA ) not providing even the basics like plates,cups,and eating utensils.
I find it difficult to believe that the meals are what they should be,nutrition wise.I also think paying only 20 percent of the health ins.is absurd when,the seniors need this money to function.Lets spend our tax dollars on the seniors and not on the employees benefits.Look a little deeper before you release this money.Talk does not mean truth,and the track record is not great.A great program has been derailed by untruths, too many assistants in administration, too many grandiose ideas that did and do not benefit our seniors.Monitor your money if possible to insure it goes for its intended use.Just do not give a blank check,to a suspect source.

I am very encouraged that Ms. Palmer and Ms. Lauder have publically confirmed that any additional funds from Warren County will be used to provide direct services ( meals, personal care, housekeeeping) to seniors in Warren County.

As a former employee of SAAA, I would offer a little advice to the Warren County Supervisors by quoting the late President, Ronald Reagan: "Trust, but verify."

What is said and what is done can be a world apart.Demand and get verification on how our money is spent.No one ever made this agency responsible for their actions.And we know how that has turned out.With promises,should come accountability.Make sure this happens,or we will go down this road again.Trust has been broken,and it will take more than words to restore it.

I agree 100%, Martha.

I agree 100% with you, Martha.


Unfortunately, I think the board either didn't watch what was going on,or didn't care. Otherwise, the agency would not be in the situation it is in now. Yes, we need the money, but I think Warren Cty should be very careful before they hand out the money. The agency may be desperate, but the board, should not be stupid.

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