As we approach National Senior Citizen Day this coming Sunday, August 21st, we thought it would be a great time to talk with one of our customers that provides services to this population. Below is our Q&A with Eastern Area Agency on Aging ›.
The mission of Eastern Area Agency on Aging is “to be the best source of information, options and services for seniors, adults with disabilities and caregivers”. Has your mission changed or evolved over the years?
Our goal is to always stay true to our mission. If there is one area in which we have evolved over the past decade it is strengthening our collaboration with other community partners. We have many partners from the social service, health, and wellness community that have allowed us expand our reach without duplicating services that other organizations offer.
How have the programs and services you provide changed?
We still offer our core services including Meals on Wheels, Medicare Counseling and Caregiver support. Over the past five years we have expanded to offer those services that are most in demand including EZ Fix for minor home repairs, Money Minders for helping to balance checkbooks and bill paying and Wellness programs to provide exercise, enrichment and socialization activities.
What remains the greatest program need?
The two programs in which we receive the most requests are home delivered meals through our Meals on Wheels program and health insurance counseling through our State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
Does your target population in Maine lend itself to any unique challenges?
Isolation tends to be a huge issue for our population. Due to the fact that so much of our service area is rural in nature we must be creative in stretching our funding dollars to reach as many people as possible. However, there are some areas that still present challenges and we must continue to strengthen community connections to combat isolation.
Do you have any predictions of changes to programs and services in the next few years?
We continue to try to stay ahead of the curve for trends that we see in the way of needed programs and services. We survey and conduct needs assessments when needed but we find that talking with people one on one is the best way to see developing gaps in services. We are not anticipating big changes in how we deliver our programs over the next few years. We believe in staying true to our mission and we value quality programs over quantity.
What opportunities for engagement are given to local residents and businesses to further the mission of EAAA?
We work with local businesses on a daily basis to further our mission. Collaboration we believe is how the work gets done. Local residents across our region step up every single day to volunteer with our agency. With their support we are able to serve the varying needs of communities across our 13,000 square mile coverage area.
How has funding for your mission changed since 1973?
In the beginning the agency’s funding was primarily Federal and State dollars. Over time we have diversified our funding with private grants, donations and endowments. We continue to work toward not having complete reliance on one funding source so that we can be more adaptable to the changing needs in our community.
How have the staffing requirements for EAAA evolved?
We continue to need staff that are well informed with community resources available to consumers. Also technology is so important in our day to day lives that we look for staff that are comfortable with tracking data electronically and are willing to move away from a paper based system.
What impact has technology had on your organization’s programs and operations?
Data is so important to our agency, for reporting, for funding and for analyzing to spot developing trends. That is why we need to have staff that are comfortable with using technology and adapting to changes in how we utilize our technology to increase efficiency. Our goal is to become a paperless agency and to that we need staff that embraces using technology to its fullest capability.
What do you think is the biggest reason that EAAA has been around for 43 years?
We stay true to our mission and above all else we value the reputation that we have built in the community as a trusted source of information. We believe it is better to say “I don’t know” and find the answer than guess and give anyone misinformation.
Will you be doing anything specific to celebrate National Senior Citizen Day this year?
We understand that National Senior Citizens Day recognizes contributions senior citizens make in communities across the United States. This is a common practice at EAAA because we rely so heavily on the generosity of older adults to volunteer their time to our programs. We believe recognition should happen throughout the year and we hold various luncheons and consistently nominate our volunteers for community service awards.
What is the most important thing you wish everyone knew about EAAA?
We wish everyone knew that we serve anyone 18 years of age or older, not just older adults over age 60. Above all we hope to be a trusted, informed resource that people can call when they need help. We know we may not always have the answer for a particular question but more often than not, we know who to connect to in the community to find it.
We want to extend our thanks to Eastern Area Agency on Aging for taking the time to answer our questions. We have a great appreciate for the amazing services provided by our nonprofit customers and always enjoy learning a little more about their organization and the programs they provide.
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