New Group Forms to Support County Seniors


(Thursday, February 28, 2008 7:30 AM EST)

With the number of senior citizens increasing each year in Arlington, the county's senior centers and programs will have to keep up.

To help, a group of residents has established the Arlington Alliance for Senior Programs (AASP), a non-profit organization that aims to supplement county funds that go to senior programs and facilities.

“Senior programs are somewhat constrained by limits of the county budget,” said AASP chairman Ken Milow. “Revenue hasn't been great recently.”

“This part of the Arlington population is growing quite rapidly, because people age and they're staying here, which is a good thing,” said AASP board member Bill Bozman. “We would like seniors to ‘age in place,' and we think that senior adult programs is a good way to help them do this.”

The idea to create a non-profit organization for seniors came out of a long-term planning committee that was sponsored by Arlington's Office of Senior Adult Programs. The funding AASP will provide will come from grants and individual donations.

So far, AASP has received two grants from the Arlington Community Foundation: one to help start up the organization, the other to provide counseling in senior centers.

The counseling program will assist seniors with their retirement plans and help them access government services.

Currently, there is one counselor for the eight county senior centers. The hope is that people will become counselors on a volunteer basis, with AASP providing training.

Other priorities for the organization include subsidizing program fees for low-income seniors, expanding and improving the county's senior-center programs and promoting awareness of programs available to Arlington's senior population.

“Some of the [senior centers] are in old schoolhouses, and are kind of dingy,” Bozman said. “We want to spruce them up, so they'd be more attractive. We want to attract, particularly, newly retired people.”

But with numerous other programs for seniors in Arlington, will adding another one end up fragmenting the senior population? AASP organizers don't think so.

“As I see it, we fulfill a niche,” Bozman said. “The niche is to cooperate with county programs and county officials in finding gaps in existing programs that can be filled through private efforts and non-government funding.”

“What we're trying to do is pull things together,” Milow said. “We're not necessarily creating new programs, but providing funding for existing programs that are taking place in the county.”

The organization plans on establishing an online presence with its own Web site. Members also hope that information on AASP will be available on the Arlington county government Web site and in The Citizen newsletter.

For those who would like to support AASP, donations can be sent to Arlington Alliance for Senior Programs, P.O. Box 5184, Arlington, Va. 22205-5184.

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