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Use your voice: future funding priorities for seniors depend on community input

From left, Greg Mason and Jim McFarlane review their routes at Gold Country Communty Services before heading out to deliver hot meals to homebound seniors. Volunteers routinely deliver more than 150 meals daily.
Cory Fisher/Cory@theunion.com |

Know & Go

Town Hall meeting

10-11:30 a.m. or 4-5:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 in the Board Chambers at The Rood Center, 950 Maidu Avenue in Nevada City.

Gold Country Stage will provide free rides on Feb. 17 on all routes. For questions about routes, call 530-477-0103, ext. 0 or Gold Country LIFT at 530-71-RIDE (7443) for $3. LIFT reservations need to be made at least two days in advance. To take the Community Survey online, visit http://AgencyOnAging4.org.

At 10:30 a.m. each weekday, 11 or more volunteers gather at Gold Country Community Services in Grass Valley, ready to load up their cars. Greg Mason reviews his route and checks over his meals — packed up and insulated to stay hot. On Friday, it was turkey tetrazzini, Brussels sprouts, Lebanese fruit salad and a dinner roll. Mason is one of roughly 60 volunteers who participate in the Gold Country Meals on Wheels program, which has been delivering hot, ready-to-eat meals since 1987. Friday’s volunteers delivered 151 meals within the areas of Nevada City, Grass Valley, Lake Wildwood, Cedar Ridge, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready, Lake of the Pines and North San Juan. Annually, the program delivers more than 34,000 to home bound seniors.

“The deliveries are more than a much-needed meal,” said Nicole Grimes, executive assistant at Gold Country Community Services. “It’s also a welfare check for those who live alone. If the door is locked and no one is answering, that’s a concern.”

The Meals on Wheels program is just one of many county support services that relies heavily on funding from the Area Agencies on Aging, which was established as a result of the Older Americans Act (AAA) in 1965. The mission of Nevada County’s AAA, known as “Area 4,” is to create and support opportunities that enhance the lives of older adults — 60 and older — and their families to be safe, healthy and independent.



“Currently, Area 4 funds about half a million dollars of Nevada County support services for our aging population,” said Sandy “Jake” Jacobson, executive director at Gold Country Community Services. “About 47 percent of what we do is funded by Area 4.”

In an effort to best serve Nevada County, Area 4 is soliciting input via a community survey and two town hall meeting sessions, both scheduled for Feb. 17 at the Rood Center in Nevada City. The data collected will be utilized to plan for services and future funding.




“This input decides what gets funded — people need to show up or take the online survey,” said Jacobson. “Funding for more affordable senior housing is a hot topic — we have a five-year waiting list. Transportation, too. And we are seeing a very large need for senior meals — the population is going up. We feed about 40 a day here in our dining room and deliver an average of 167 meals. This would be a horrific time to have funding reduced.”

The results from the Feb. 17 meetings will determine what kinds of funds Gold Country Community Services can apply for, she added, which could be significantly different from existing funding allocations.

“Area 4 is a way to get the federal funding we need, giving agencies the ability to connect with the community on a local level,” said Tamaran Cook, program manager for Adult Services. “The intent of the town hall meeting is to take the temperature of older adults, providers and caregivers — to give them a forum where they can have a voice. There are people in need out there that we don’t even know about. Senior housing, transportation and providing nutritious meals are sure to top the list. They can only ask for so much in donations. Access to medical care is a growing issue too.”

Area 4 serves the counties of Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba, and is one of 33 area agencies in California, designated by the state to develop, coordinate, and fund programs designed to help older persons maintain their health and independence. The programs and services are offered free with a request for a voluntary donation. No participant is turned away who cannot contribute. Nevada County programs and services currently funded by Area 4 include health insurance counseling, employment services, 211 information and assistance, legal services, long term care ombudsman services and elder abuse prevention, meals, residential repairs, transportation services and a senior volunteer program.

“We really want to hear from the community at this town hall meeting or through the surveys,” emphasized Cook. “This will help us get our priorities straight and put the funding where it really needs to go.”

The Town Hall meeting will have two sessions, morning from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and afternoon from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 in the Board Chambers at The Rood Center, 950 Maidu Avenue in Nevada City. Light refreshments will be available.

To request disability related accommodations, call FREED at 530-477-3333 (voice) or 530-477-8194 (TTY).

Gold Country Stage will provide free rides on Feb. 17 on all routes. For questions about routes, call 530-477-0103, ext. 0 or Gold Country LIFT at 530-71-RIDE (7443) for $3. LIFT reservations need to be made at least two days in advance. To take the Community Survey online, visit http://AgencyOnAging4.org.

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.


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