Judy Wells/Paulding County Progress Home-delivered meals are just one of the services the Paulding County Senior Center offers to residents in the county who are age 60 years or older. Here, preparing the meals are, from left – Paul Steele, Roxanne Rodman and Yvonne Stahl. Although the meals budget will not be effected, the center will lose approximately $3,000 from its transportation budget this year.

Feature Writer

PAULDING – The Paulding County Senior Center has learned that the funding for its transportation program is being decreased for 2015. The center, under the leadership of the Toledo Area Office on Aging (AOOA), which serves 10 counties in this region, has determined that Paulding County has the lowest number of residents over the age of 60 in those 10 counties. But, using a formula to determine grant awards based on population and certain other statistics, the AOOA has also determined the county has the highest percentage of seniors still living independently in their own homes.

“We have three main components of services,” said Marsha Yeutter, senior center director. “We offer transportation, meal services and social events. It’s only the funding for transportation that is being cut. We transport seniors to and from dialysis treatments in Defiance five days a week, for grocery shopping, to health and beauty appointments, therapy, doctor or attorney visits, and to and from the center for meals and socializing.”

She says the meals and social events budget will not be affected.

Yeutter, who wears many hats at the center, is responsible for submitting the annual budget to AOOA.

“When I applied for funds this year, I applied for approximately $53,000,” she said. “We’d been getting about $48,000 for the last few years, but with the increase in transportation needs and requests I needed to ask for a little more. Because Paulding County Hospital no longer offers Phone-A-Ride, our trips have increased. The hospital did make a nice donation to us when they eliminated their service, though, and we’re appreciative of that.”

Most people don’t realize that the senior center does not receive money from the county’s general fund. They are thankful that since they are a county entity they do receive the benefit of using the services of the county auditor’s office, commissioners’ office and the treasurer’s office. The Paulding County commissioners administer the senior center.

“Basically our money comes from federal funding which is awarded by the AOOA, the Passport program, which is reimbursement for Medicaid clients, United Way, tax levy and from donations from consumers and the general public. We also get about $12,000 a year from wind farm money.”

Because Paulding County has more seniors living independently, based on percentage of seniors 60 years of age and older, than the other counties served, AOOA has awarded the county more than the formula determined but still less than requested. “The senior center, along with local home health agencies, makes that possible,” Yeutter continued. “They did award us more than their formula said we should have gotten, but it’s still a $3,000 decrease from previous years and almost an $8,000 decrease from the amount I requested in our application.”

She said the annual budget for the center is about $425,000, which includes all service expenses, utilities, payroll for the five full-time and six part-time employees. Most socialization and any entertainment expenses are paid from an auxiliary steering committee fund or they solicit for sponsors.

There will be a levy renewal going on the ballot in November, which if they file for a replacement levy, may generate a little extra income, but Yeutter said that won’t help with this year’s expenses.

“We may have to start prioritizing trips for our consumers,” she said. “We try not to have waiting lists or to deny services, but that may become necessary.”

Some of the services offered at the center, in addition to the dialysis trips to Defiance, include transportation to and from medical appointments in Lima, Toledo, Fort Wayne, Van Wert and Defiance, a grocery shopping trip every Wednesday, and about 180 home-delivered and congregate meals per day.

“We travel about 10,000 miles per month,” Yeutter said. “And there’s never a charge to our consumers. We ask for a donation of 25 cents per mile for the transportation, but if they’re not able to afford that we understand. We also ask for a $3 donation for each meal, but that, too, is up to the consumer. As long as they live in the county, we’re here to serve their needs.”

To donate to the transportation fund at the senior center or to volunteer call the center at 419-399-3650 and speak with Marsha.