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Thanks to the senior service levy, Yellow Springs senior Grace Funderburg, right, can get help from local resident Mary Peterson to clean her home once a week and receive rides from Yellow Springs Senior Center volunteers to run errands. Voters will decide whether to replace the 1-mill Greene County senior services levy in the Nov. 3 election.

Levy supports local seniors

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Every Monday morning, 85-year old resident Grace Funderburg gets help cleaning her house on Lisa Lane. Local resident Mary Peterson comes over to vacuum and dust, and the two often share stories about the village they raised their children in. Several times a week Funderburg also gets a ride to town from a volunteer driver so that she can do her grocery shopping, fill drug prescriptions and do other errands.

Last year the Yellow Springs Senior Center served approximately 300 seniors like Funderburg in Yellow Springs and Miami Township, about a third of the residents aged 65 and older. And Funderburg, for one, feels lucky because the services she receives allow her to continue living on her own, in her home in the village.

“We’re fortunate in Yellow Springs for all the services we do have, and I’m happy,” she said this week. “If we didn’t have them anymore, that would be going backwards.”

In order for these types of services to continue, Greene County residents must pass the senior services levy that will appear as Issue 6 on the Nov. 3 ballot. The Greene County Council on Aging is asking for a five-year, 1-mill replacement levy that would cost a homeowner $30 per $100,000 of property they own. The levy is an increase of .2 mills, or $6.76 more per year over the previous levy, which is set to expire at the end of 2009. According to Karen Puterbaugh, executive director of the Council on Aging, the increase was needed in order to maintain the current level of services the Coucil funds for seniors, which have risen since the last levy in 2004.

The senior services levy generates for the county over $2.7 million, 68 percent of which the Council on Aging uses for its Partners in Care program (including home-delivered meals, home and personal care, support coordination and emergency response), while 23 percent goes to 10 area senior centers, one of which is the Yellow Springs Senior Center. The funding for each senior center is based on the populations they serve, which for the Yellow Springs and Miami Township area is about 300 seniors, Puterbaugh said.

“We’re county-wide, but we have a wonderful partnership with the Yellow Springs community,” she said. “We’re all trying to have a positive impact on the lives of the seniors in the community and their families,” she said.

About half of the Yellow Springs Senior Center’s $200,000 annual budget comes from the senior services levy through the Council on Aging, Senior Center Director Rodney Bean said last week. The center helps run the Yellow Springs home assistance program, the transportation program and the homemaker program, and uses its operating budget to cover activities and events, facility maintenance, and the staffing of five and a half full-time equivalents. Those funds supplement the over 100 volunteers who together gave 93 hours a week last year at the Yellow Springs center to lower the cost of service to seniors, according to Bean.

The home assistance program, co-funded by Friends Care Community, assessed the needs of 200 residents and their caregivers last year and then coordinated a team of supporters to meet those needs, according to coordinator Amy Crawford, the registered nurse who co-staffs the full-time position with licensed social worker Caroline Mullin. Together, they help seniors navigate their Medicare drug plans, arrange in-home care services, offer support for caregivers (such as Rubin Battino’s Charlie Brown caregivers support group) and find emergency support for younger residents who need help with heating bills or subsidizing house payments.

The center’s transportation program is a seven-day a week chauffeur service fueled by volunteer drivers who take about 54 Yellow Springs residents without a vehicle or a license to run errands inside and out of town. The center coordinates the homemaker program that sends aides to clean, cook, provide personal care and do hands-on things to help the elderly in their homes. And the center also provides socialization opportunities such as quilting groups, exercise classes, bridge games, potlucks and outings to restaurants and the theater, Bean said.

While the center coordinates the homemaker program, the $75,000 that was used last year to fund in-home services for about 50 Yellow Springs residents comes directly from the levy through the Council on Aging, Puterbaugh said.

Overall, the services that local residents and especially seniors currently receive would be greatly impacted if the levy did not pass, Bean said. And he hopes that in tenuous economic times, when people tend to need more social services, not less, that residents turn out to support the senior services levy next month.

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