Director highlights projects completed by the AHS staff
By Tim Wholf
During the past three months that I have been the director for Aging and Human Services, AHS has been busy meeting the needs of our Johnson County residents. I wanted to take the opportunity and highlight a couple of projects completed by the dedicated AHS staff.
All About Me
The Johnson County Area Agency on Aging, one division within AHS, received funds through the American Rescue Plan Act as part of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. In conjunction with the Older Americans Act, ARPA funds provided funding for services for older adults.
One project the JCAAA used ARPA funds for was to produce an “All About Me” workbook, designed as a resource for individuals to record their life events, social, health and financial information. It allows individuals to express their personal care needs, or any wishes they have in preparing for end of life.
The workbook is a source that can help alleviate unnecessary confusion and discord in times of great stress, by providing answers to those questions families find themselves asking. Individuals completing the “All About Me” workbook are passing down a legacy of information and a lifetime of memories that families can cherish and ensure one’s wishes are carried through.
Copies of “All About Me” are available and can be picked up at the AHS office at 11811 S. Sunset Drive, Suite 1300, Olathe. A link to the workbook is available at the AHS website at jocogov.org/department/aging- and-human-services where it can be downloaded, saved and completed. The workbook will be translated into Spanish in the near future.
Shelf Stable Food and Toiletry Distribution
Feeding America’s report The State of Senior Hunger in America in 2020, released data and findings revealing that 5.2 million seniors (6.8%, or 1 in 15) were food insecure. Kansas’s rate of food insecurity among seniors was 6.5%. One way JCAAA has decided to help with food insecurity is to provide “care packages” of shelf stable food and toiletry items.
In June, 800 older adults in Johnson County received a delivery of shelf stable food and toiletries, using ARPA funds for the distribution. Individuals expressing a desire for the items received two boxes and two tote bags of food and toiletries. Food items included pudding cups, fruit cups, vegetables, macaroni and cheese, tuna, soup, seasonings, juices, snack crackers and more. Toiletry items included hand soap, lotion, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, paper towels, bleach, dish soap and sponges.
Each individual received products valued at $215. The total cost was $174,466.
To be eligible for the care package, residents needed to be a current Older Americans Act client residing in Johnson County.
Plans are now being made for a fall delivery of shelf stable food and toiletries which will be delivered by Sept. 30.
In my short time as AHS director, I have been astounded by the amazing volunteers we have with the department. Our volunteers help in many ways, including working within the office, assisting at congregate sites and food pantries, driving individuals to appointments through Catch-a-Ride and delivering meals to homebound residents. I have been fortunate to spend time with some of our volunteers and see the work they do firsthand.
One area where we can always use more volunteers is assisting with our home delivered meals. We have routes where drivers are needed in De Soto, northern Overland Park and Olathe. Volunteers are not only ensuring our residents receive a nutritious meal, but are providing a small amount of social interaction with the clients.
I recently “assisted” one of our volunteers on their delivery route. Not only did I get to spend time with this amazing individual, but I left with an even bigger gratitude for the service he provided. He knew the individuals on his route and carried on brief conversations with each of them. It was apparent how important the meals were to our clients.
Shortly after I started my job, I had the opportunity to meet Max DeWeese at a celebration honoring him. Max delivered meals for 35 years before “retiring” from volunteering in March 2022.
A Marine veteran of World War II, he shared many stories about his life and the importance he found in delivering meals to our clients. Sadly, Max passed away on July 9, 2022. He was 101 years old.
Volunteer - Make a Difference
I would encourage anyone that has “extra” time and would like to make a difference in someone’s life, to consider volunteering. To find out more about volunteering, call 913-715-8895 or Go to jocogov.org, search for Aging and Human Services then click on Volunteer Opportunities at the bottom of the screen to see Volunteer Opportunities and contact information for the Volunteer Services Team.