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April 18, 2022

Senior Services Collaborative works to improve quality of life for the local aging population

Ellen Phipps is facilitator of the Senior Services Collaborative. (Contributed)
By Pam Kamphuis
Warrenton Lifestyle
“I’d call it a unique think tank,” said Ray Parks, director of aging and program support services at Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services, of the regional Senior Services Collaborative organization.

SSC is a local group of different agencies, providers and people that are involved in serving older adults in the tri-county community of Fauquier, Rappahannock and Culpeper. Facilitated by Ellen Phipps, executive director of Aging Together, the SSC group was created through an extensive planning process to meet the needs of older adults and improve their quality of life. Through the identification of gaps in services, the group works to create solutions to make life easier, better and healthier for the community's seniors.

There are many projects that have their genesis in the work of the SSC and receive funding through the PATH Foundation, among them Generations Central Adult Day Care Center, the Regional Transportation Collaborative and Fauquier FISH for Seniors.

“Senior services is one of the PATH Foundation’s four areas of focus, because our population is older compared to other areas in the region. When we work collaboratively, we often find that the conditions and solutions that benefit seniors actually benefit everyone in the community, which is why we consider things like walkability, safety net and health care, transportation, housing, food and sharing information about how to access those resources,” Christy Connolly, president and CEO of the PATH Foundation, told FauquierNow.

“PATH has done wonderful things for this community. The money they bring is fantastic, but partnerships they’ve curated, such as the SSC, are invaluable,” said Charity Furness, executive director of Fauquier FISH.

Parks added, “Fauquier County is a real focal point for senior services, and the collaborations brought about by the SSC result in pulling together a lot of previously unrelated resources and doing some creative things that I think are unique, and these three programs I think are some good examples of that.”

Generations Central Adult Day Care Center

Speaking about The Adult Day Care Center in Warrenton, which closed, Sara Amos, director of the new Generations Central Adult Day Care Center in Culpeper, says, “It was a great program, but they were really limited by space."

The Generations center, meanwhile, is centrally located and open to community members of a five-county area, including Fauquier County.

“Now we have miles of space,” Amos said of the new center, which is over 6,000 square feet. The center is located at the Culpeper Baptist Church and is licensed to accommodate 60 participants in the program.

“We are starting out with 15 seniors enrolled, with a 1-6 staff-participant ratio,” Amos said. “... This is still a fledgling program, and we expect to grow to accommodate more hours and more participants as needed in the future."

The benefits to the Generations Central Adult Day Care Center are many, and one of the greatest is combatting senior isolation, which has increased since COVID-19. In partnership with the well-established day care center also at the church, Generations is also able to offer intergenerational opportunities.

Amos said, “We are not a drop-in program. Participants must go through the enrollment process and have a physical examination with their doctor before coming to the center.” The cost of the program is $90 per day or $45 for half a day, and limited scholarships are available.

Regional Transportation Collaborative

Transportation can be a huge problem for seniors, especially those that live alone and can no longer drive. There are solutions in the Fauquier community, such as public transport, private transportation and volunteer organizations such as Voltran, a Fauquier-based grassroots volunteer driver program.

Launched at the end of 2020, the Regional Transportation Collaborative was formed, a model unique to Virginia. It is a community partnership working together to increase mobility options for older adults and vulnerable individuals.

“Now, thanks to RTC, these mobility organizations are under one roof, so to speak. While still maintaining their own programs and autonomy, the RTC can help with funding options and grants for these nonprofits,” said Kristin Lam Peraza, TDM coordinator and mobility manager at the Regional Transportation Collaborative.

RTC operates one call center that assists with transportation needs for seniors in Fauquier and the surrounding counties. By calling one number, seniors can get information on any transportation support: public, private or volunteer. “All arrangements made through there. A lot of the time it’s Voltran, but we also try to match people with public transit and other available options," Peraza said.

FISH for Seniors

Fauquier FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help) has been a force in the community since 1983, mostly addressing food insufficiency for children. Now, FISH, with the Fauquier County Department of Social Services, has launched FISH for Seniors, a meal-delivery program for isolated seniors modeled after the program for children and thanks to a grant from the PATH Foundation.

FISH is presently delivering DASH meals (Delicious, Affordable, Simple, Healthy) to 40 Fauquier seniors that have been identified as in-need, at-risk and homebound by DSS or Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services.

Ingredients and preparation directions for nine healthy, easy meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for three days) are delivered to the seniors once a month, but with leftovers, the seniors often find that they have enough food for as many as 10 days.

“We are not able to serve everyone that is in need right now,” said Furness. “We serve as many as we can. We feel the needs are between 300-400 isolated seniors that are at risk of hunger. Our obstacles to reaching everyone at risk are finding a larger space to store and pack food and developing a delivery system to reach everyone.”

Senior Services Collaborative members

-Aging Together/Ellen Phipps
-Capital Caring/Altonia Garrett, Jason Parsons
-Center for Nonprofit Excellence/Cindy Colsen
-Cornerstone Baptist Caregiver Ministry/Ursula Garcia-Mayes
-Fauquier County DSS/Shel Douglas, Emily Ponn, Adam Shellenberger
-Fauquier County Government/Holly Meade
-Fauquier FISH /Charity Furness, Julie Jones
-The Villas at Suffield Meadows/Fauquier Health/Sophia Cameron
-Generations Adult Day Center/Sara Amos
-George Mason University/Catherine Tompkins
-Hero’s Bridge/Molly Brooks
-Mental Health Association of Fauquier/Renee Norden
-PATH Foundation/Kirsten Dueck, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Yesenia Reyes
-People, Inc./Brandi Day
-Rapp at Home/Joyce Wenger
-Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services/Ray Parks, Jim LaGraffe, Sheryl Reinstorm
-Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission/Patrick Mauney
-Town of Culpeper/Andrew Hopewell
-Virginia Dept. of Health/April Achter

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