Council on Aging representative speaks at Family Connection meeting

Published 8:39 am Friday, December 14, 2012

SPECIAL GUEST: Babs J. Hall, a resource specialist on aging with the SOWEGA Council on Aging, was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s Decatur County Family Connection meeting.

Babs J. Hall, a resource specialist on aging at the SOWEGA Council on Aging (COA) in Albany, Ga., spoke to Decatur County Family Connection at its collaborative meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Hall explained that many people are confused about the mission of the COA. Although the COA helps people who are 60 years and older, it also provides assistance to any disabled person, regardless of age.

The COA is a non-profit organization that plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for senior citizens and disabled citizens, in a 14-county area of southwest Georgia that includes Decatur County. In addition, the COA also helps coordinate services that assist family members and caregivers, as well as professionals who help seniors and disabled citizens.

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Hall said that she is responsible for maintaining a database of more than 3,300 organizations and resources that help meet the needs of citizens in that 14-county area.

“I make personal contact with every service provider in our area, either on the phone or face-to-face,” Hall said. “I want to know exactly what your organizations can do to help our citizens. You can’t always get that information just from a website or a Facebook page.”

Hall noted that many people think of the COA as the service provider of the home-delivered meals program, also known as “Meals on Wheels.” However, she pointed out that many other services are also provided by the COA.

Some of those services include, but are not limited to, Alzheimer’s caregivers’ “Time Out” services, family caregiver programs, telephone reassurance and counseling programs, and retired senior volunteer programs.

Through the COA’s “Enhanced Services Program” database, citizens can also be informed about a variety of other services offered by those 3,300 organizations throughout the service area’s 14 counties. Hall noted that those organizations even include visiting professionals that can provide haircuts, grocery delivery, or veterinary services to homebound seniors or the disabled.

“We take a lot of these kinds of services for granted because we can get in our cars and drive to the vet or the hair salon,” she said. “For those who are homebound or don’t have transportation, these kinds of services can be real life-savers.”

For more information on the COA, visit or call (229) 432-1124 or 1-800-282-6612.

In other Family Connection related news:

• Family Connection Coordinator Ronnie Burke said the Deep South Riders had more than 300 motorcycle riders, each of whom brought at least one gift, for Family Connection’s “Secret Santa” toy collection campaign last Saturday afternoon. He said more than 1,000 toys and other items had already been collected, and those gifts will help more than 300 children in more than 100 families. A team of volunteers wrapped those gifts Wednesday afternoon.

• Burke said that groups in other counties have been impressed by Family Connection’s backpack food program and “teen maze” program, and hope to start similar programs in those counties. The backpack food program provides food to about 150 needy school children to take home at the end of the day, and the teen maze program helps youth learn the consequences of positive — and negative — life choices.

• Debbie McIntyre, adult education director at Bainbridge College, said there have been 140 GED tests offered since July, with a 95-percent passing rate. She said many of those students have already been enrolled in college.

She also said that the Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP) — which receives funding from the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, United Way and Bikefest — has paid for about $4,000 worth of those tests. The CLCP will also be handing out dictionaries to the county’s third graders in January.