ALBANY — Through the 10 months since the closing of its centers the SOWEGA Council on Aging has continued providing services for seniors, and next month it will host a forum for learning what else it can do through the pandemic and moving forward.
The Feb. 28 virtual meeting will focus on faith and nonprofit groups for comments about programs and services in the 14 counties covered.
“Really, this is something we’ve held annually,” Izzy Sadler, the SOWEGA council’s executive director, said. “In the past, we held it in person. We felt this was the safest way to do it. People (also) don’t have to worry about traveling.”
The virtual meeting will include a presentation by the Georgia Department of Human Services and SOWEGA Council on Aging, as well as a period for questions and comments.
“The reason we invited the church leaders and nonprofit leaders and the congregants and members is we want them to learn about the programs we offer they can benefit from and ways we can probably provide benefits in the community,” Sadler said. “It’s just a big meeting to try to inform and try to even identify some of the needs in the area.”
Since the centers were closed in March 2020, the number of area residents seeking to participate in the organization’s programs has grown. The Council on Aging has continued exercise programs both online and some in-person outdoor offerings, such as chair yoga and chair exercise sessions that can be viewed online for participants who can’t make it out of the house. Phone Bingo also has been popular.
Instead of the congregant lunches at the centers, clients have been able to pick up meals at area restaurants and call in for group chats on the phone with friends regularly encountered on-site. New restaurants are coming onboard in each of the 14 counties, Sadler said.
Individuals who provide home care to relatives can have a caregiver come in to watch a loved one while they go out to take care of business or have some “me time” outside the home.
Recently the organization received 100 referrals in a single month and is working quickly through another 69 referrals that have come in, Sadler said, emphasizing the need in the community.
“Prior to COID, we didn’t take that many referrals in a month,” she said. “We might (have had) one or two in a month. We’re really reaching out to people who are isolated, who are alone. That’s really growing by the month.”
Registration for the 10:30 a.m. Feb. 28 session is required by visiting https://www.eventbrite.com/e/faith-and-nonprofit-meeting-dougherty-county-tickets-135702254095.