By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine
This year I will be hosting a pair of Senior Health Fairs to bring dozens of vendors to one location for seniors to see and hear about benefits and services available in the community and through county, state and federal agencies. These events will be held in Jefferson County on Sept. 16 and Oswego County the following month on Oct. 10. Both events run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
My office and I have been a regular part of the annual Seniorama serving St. Lawrence and Franklin counties at the Mohawk Bingo Palace in Hogansburg since I was first elected to state office. Every year this event, put on by the StateWide Senior Action Council of Northern New York, draws a large crowd of seniors looking to learn more about how they can maintain and improve their quality of life. My office and I will again be involved with this great event next week as well.
It is important that we recognize the impact our seniors have made building our communities and the ways they continue to play an active role. Earlier this year, it was a senior from DeKalb Junction in St. Lawrence County who was awarded the state SenateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2009 Most Outstanding Contribution by a Senior Award. Floyd Ã¢â‚¬Å“DuffÃ¢â‚¬Â Powell was honored on the Senate floor for his work through his church and in his community. It was an honor to spend the day attending events with him.
As an elected official, I take the concerns and the advice of our seniors very seriously. Many seniors live on a fixed income from retirement or social security so rising costs for healthcare, prescriptions, home heating and more have a greater impact on their everyday lives.
Last year, additional funding was made available for the Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, which many seniors use to help pay their winter heating bills. This year, I worked with my colleagues to make sure that we preserved funding for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program, or EPIC, along with funding for nursing homes and home care.
Agencies such as the Office for the Aging and Public Health Departments are on the front line helping our seniors to access programs. However, many seniors donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know who to turn to for help and which private sector businesses are looking to cater to their needs. This is why the Senior Action CouncilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s event is so important and why I am hosting events in Jefferson and Oswego to offer the same kind of opportunities.
I hope that we have a large turnout for these events because I am confident every senior will find them helpful and informative. I hope to meet many of you there to say hello and hear about the issues that matter most to you so I can continue to make the issues facing our seniors a top priority in representing all of us in Albany.