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SAAA trying to provide services

Officials hope to work on clearing waiting lists, getting people help

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Six months after a financial crisis hit the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging, waiting lists for its services are longer than ever, a situation agency officials hope to begin remedying in the next few weeks.

Cindy Palmer, the agency's interim president, told a board of directors meeting Thursday that case managers would be reassessing individuals on waiting lists and rating them according to their needs. Those with the most pressing needs will have the first opportunities to receive agency services, she said.

"We're going to study them and start getting some of these people" off the list and into programs, Palmer said.

In an interview after the meeting, Roberta Lauder, director of resource development, said she believed the agency has never seen waiting lists as long for greater periods of time than the current ones.

For example, the waiting list is 53 for the Meals on Wheels program in all six jurisdictions served by SAAA -- Frederick, Shenandoah, Page, Warren and Clarke counties and Winchester.

The Homemaker Assistance program has 37 people on its waiting list in all jurisdictions and the Personal Care program has 18.

One of the longest waiting lists is 20 people in Warren County for the Active Living Center, according to Mary Ann Gardner, interim director of the Warren County Active Living program.

Other long lists include 14 in Winchester and 11 in Warren County for the Meals on Wheels program. Clarke and Shenandoah counties have some of the shortest waiting lists, two people in each county waiting for help from the Personal Care program.

Lauder said other social service and health care institutions in the community have stopped making referrals to SAAA because of the length of the waiting lists.

The agency has been unable to move people off the lists and into programs since the financial crisis descended on it late last summer. Since then, the agency has struggled to work through several cash flow shortages that led to reductions in pay and benefits for the staff. Agency officials have said layoffs and program cuts remain a possibility as the agency tries to survive the latest round of cash flow imbalances.

Lauder said the frozen waiting lists have frustrated agency staff members who want to continue to help clients.

"It's hard on those on the front lines, the case managers and staff," Lauder said. "They see the need and they have to say 'no.'"

In a related matter, Palmer spoke with cautious optimism at the meeting about the agency's finances improving after March. She said officials from the state Department for the Aging met with her and other SAAA officials earlier this month and offered helpful advice on how to submit more effective requests to funding sources.

"Once we're through March, we will enter into a recovery period when revenues and expenses begin to stabilize," she said.

The financial crisis has produced lawsuits and counter-lawsuits between SAAA and former executives who were dismissed last summer in the aftermath of the discovery of checks made out to vendors that were never sent to the intended recipients. Several investigations have been launched, including one by state police into the possibility of criminal wrongdoing in the way money was handled at the agency.


They just do not get it!!!!! You don't curtail services,you stop waste.Stop paying salaries to people who are not imperative to these services.I truly believe a fifth grader could see who is and who is not needed for this agency to perform at a better level.Get rid of the " dead wood". Not hard to figure out who is not needed.Perhaps some of the "assistants".If programs are not at maximum,why have maximum staff ?This should not be hard to figure.But as I have said from the beginning,leadership is sorely lacking.When you are paying top dollar for a leader you should expect and get top leadership.Not happening here.Time to try something else?Just might be a good idea.But until" they get it",probably will not happen.Continue to flounder,while our seniors continue to suffer.Leadership????NOT !!!!!!!!!


We were told today, that some of those in the front office were donating their 3rd paycheck back to the agency. Maybe some of them feel guilty.

Hi Linda,what is the 3rd pay check? They only get paid twice a month.Guilty? I really doubt that.Getting sympathy from the board? Perhaps.Or from the public.You really cannot blame the employees for their salaries.Blame the board for letting it happen.If they were not aware,than shame on them.It was part of their job to review salaries.If they were all so enthralled with Ms. Cockrell that they never questioned her decisions they were not doing their job.I still would like to see salaries made public knowledge.Let the public decide about more funding.I will be willing to bet that some of the "administrators" in Front Royal are grossing more than our law enforcement officers.Fair? Do not think so.If you agree,let them know.Silence will not change a thing.Speak up,be counted and help our seniors!


Martha, apparently, there are 3 pay periods in March. That is where I got the 3rd pay check. I was told this by someone from the Front Royal Office. I said something yesterday about making the salaries public knowledge and you would thought I was asking for the keys to vault at Knoxville. Everyone thought that it was terrible and that no one should have to tell what they earn. I told them, that SAAA is a non-profit organization and public funded, why should we be kept in the dark? Are you in position to know the salaries of the top earners at the Agency?
We did receive good news for Luray today. An anonymous donor, paid our rent for the rest of the year. At least someone still likes us.
There must be some monies be coming in,because we have be told to ask friends to come to our center, and we have also a new person to one of our meals on wheels run. I am not sure where the money is coming from, when just 2 weeks ago, there was absolutely NO MONEY FOR ANYTHING. Any guesses? I appreciate your continued input and your care about the agency. Luray's center has been a God send for my Mom and I these last 2 years. My Mom has Alzheimer's and is in the late middle stages. I am her full time caregiver. I think I have needed the center as much as she has. I would hate to see the centers close as I know that for some seniors, this is the only source of companionship and a hot meal they get each day. I just hope that Helen gets an un-sympathetic judge and gets one that has a Mom or DAD that has a need for a senior center or has Dementia or Alzheimer's. :-)

made a reply to the Feb.28 comment several days ago...wonder what happened to it?

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