Senior programs in Ocean County get funding boost

Programs and services that provide assistance to the thousands of seniors living in Ocean County recently received additional funds from federal, state and county sources.

“This additional money received, in part, under the federal Older Americans Act will help enhance some of the many services we provide to our senior citizens, especially those who are frail, vulnerable and disabled,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Office of Senior Services. “From home delivered meals to helping out the many caregivers who provide a helping hand to the elderly, these funds go a long way in delivering beneficial and needed support.”

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Aug. 21 approved amendments to the contracts of 13 different senior services providers in order to reflect the additional funding.

The federal funds increased by $180,085, while state funds increased by $15,470 and county funding went up by $91,000 for a total midyear increase of $286,555.

Vicari noted that he was pleased to see the additional money for these programs.

“Some years we have gone without mid-year increases,” Vicari said. “This certainly is a help.”

For instance, Vicari said Community Services Inc. which is the county’s senior nutrition program provider received an additional $70,000 for the county’s senior home delivered meal program.

“The senior home delivered meal program is of the utmost importance to this Board of Freeholders and we are committed to making certain funding for this program is maintained at the proper levels in order to serve the neediest of our seniors,” Vicari said.

Community Services Inc. provides 1,100 home delivered meals a day across Ocean County to many low income and homebound seniors. In addition, they provide meals to numerous senior congregate nutrition sites.

“This program provides more than a meal a day,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines. “This program serves as a lifeline to many seniors. It’s a daily wellness check. And, it allows our seniors to continue to live independently.”

Ocean County is home to more than 173,000 seniors.

Vicari noted that several senior centers in the County – the Toms River Senior Center, the Brick Township Senior Center, Long Beach Island Center and the Point Pleasant Multi-Purpose Senior Center – received additional funds as well.

“These centers serve as a centerpiece for social activities for our seniors,” Vicari said. “Throughout the year, they hold health fairs and informational sessions on scams and other topics. They are open daily and provide a comfortable spot for our seniors to gather and enjoy each other’s company.”

Providers that assist with transportation, outreach services, fix-it programs, caregiver support and legal assistance also received additional funding.

“The cost to run our senior services and programs totals $6.1 million annually with the cost shared by the federal government, the state government and the Ocean County freeholders,” Vicari said.

Ocean County appropriates almost $2.2 million for its senior programs. The federal funding totals $2.5 million and the state provides $1.4 million.

“We expect to serve close to 33,000 older residents and their families in 2019,” Vicari said. “Whether you are someone new to retirement or someone that is approaching 100, while your needs differ, we recognize the importance of being able to access assistance when needed.


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