Office on Aging plans reorganization, expansion


In an attempt to better serve the county's estimated 18,000 senior citizens, the Office on Aging is reorganizing and expanding its services and programs for the elderly.

The reorganization, most of which should be completed by October, will cost about $200,000 at the most, said Vivian Reid, administrator for the Office on Aging, adding those funds have already been appropriated in the county's budget.

"This has been two years in the planning," Ms. Reid said. In 1992, workers conducted a long-term study to determine how they could serve the growing elderly population by the year 2000, she said.

"What we're trying to do is cover the county in more equitable ways instead of just serving the immediate vicinity of Columbia and Ellicott City," Ms. Reid said.

The changes include:

* The opening of "mini senior centers" in East Columbia in September and one in Savage next year. Such centers would be a smaller version of Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia, a multipurpose center that offers activities, meals and programs for seniors.

* The moving of the Elkridge mini center from a small church to Elkridge library.

* Creation of a senior facility in the western part of the county.

* Expansion of staff duties and responsibilities.

* Formation of task forces and coalitions to help the county's elderly.

* Hiring of four or five new staffers to add to the Office on Aging's 23-member staff.

One of the most visible changes is the transfer of Nell Boynton from her directorship at Florence Bain center, where she has worked for the past six years, to the Office on Aging. She will take over as program manager at the Office on Aging, overseeing all of the county's senior centers.

The Office on Aging operates Florence Bain center, the county's only full-service senior facility, built in 1983. The multipurpose center offers meals and programs for seniors.

"It's a promotion for her and broadens her span and control," Ms. Reid said. "We need her expertise."

Ms. Reid said she will interview candidates in a few weeks to find a replacement for Ms. Boynton at Florence Bain. In the meantime, Ms. Boynton remains at the center.

Ms. Reid said the changes in the Office on Aging are needed to keep pace with the county's growing elderly population, which totaled 9,400 in 1976. She said it is impossible for every senior citizen to go to the central Florence Bain center.

"We have to go where the people are," she said.

Charles Greenslit, chairman of the 12-member county Commission on Aging, said he welcomes the changes in the Office on Aging.

"The Commission on Aging has supported the office's plans for reorganization," Mr. Greenslit said. "We believe this is going in the right direction."

The commission was formed in 1969.

In 1975, members asked the county to establish the Office on Aging because the needs of the elderly were not being met.

Lucien Berry, a 72-year-old Clarksville resident who visits the Florence Bain center three times a week, was aware of the changes and said the mini centers will be convenient for seniors.

Mr. Berry said he was glad Ms. Boynton is getting promoted.

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