On July 8, 1974, the Chatham County Council on Aging was founded as a nonprofit organization to serve seniors and their families. Soon to celebrate its 47th anniversary, the COA continues to assist …
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On July 8, 1974, the Chatham County Council on Aging was founded as a nonprofit organization to serve seniors and their families. Soon to celebrate its 47th anniversary, the COA continues to assist and engage Chatham residents through its many programs and services.
Since March 16, 2020, when the Council closed its two centers to in-facility programming due to COVID-19, it has pursued alternative ways to continue its mission of helping seniors stay healthy and remain living safely in the community.
The COA has provided meals, supplies and friendly calls to seniors across the county; developed online and phone programming; continued its respite and home care services; loaned assistive equipment; offered Medicare counseling and tax assistance virtually; and much more.
“Still, we know that for many who attended our centers for lunch, exercise and a variety of activities, the length of this pandemic has taken a toll,” said Dennis Streets, the COA’s director. “That is why we are eagerly hoping we can begin our 47th year in July by welcoming back those who are fully vaccinated.”
In a recent survey the Council on Aging conducted of participants of its congregate nutrition program, it learned that nearly all (94%) will be fully vaccinated by July. Most respondents also want all in attendance at any indoor COA events to be vaccinated.
After considering this information and the current data on COVID-19, the Council’s board of directors approved the goal of reopening the Western Center in Siler City to participants who are “fully vaccinated” early in July. The COA will use the Western Center in Siler City as it is a larger space; the Eastern Center in Pittsboro is planned to undergo some renovations in the summer to enhance its space.
The COA plans to continue following the science and public health experts in offering programs and services. The board recognizes the importance of proceeding safely in opening the centers to in-person programming.
“In considering the interests and concerns of seniors, staff, and volunteers, we also support the public health campaign encouraging all persons to become vaccinated,” said Larry Ross, the president of the board.
In the meantime, the Council is expanding its offering of outdoor programming. On May 4 it began offering outdoor exercise class at its Eastern Center in Pittsboro for those who are fully vaccinated and have registered in advance to attend.
Working with various community partners, the COA has resumed Chatham County Senior Games and SilverArts, with a wide range of sporting events and an arts competition.
Later in May, the Council will begin offering outdoor meetings of its caregiver support group at the Pittsboro Center as well.
“Much more is in the works,” Streets said. “When we open the Western Center, we want to assure it is a very festive, celebratory time. We have all been through so much and it will be wonderful to be reunited. We also want to move ahead with plans involving our Meals on Wheels program in hopes we can reengage our dedicated volunteers soon and offer more frequent visits to those who are homebound.”
For questions about the work of the Council on Aging, visit www.chathamcoa.org or call 919-542-4512 or 919-742-3975.