Dear friends, donors, volunteers, and supporters,
As we approach the end of the year, I wanted to share with you our 2023 recap and the tremendous impact and progress we have made at the Council on Aging of Central Oregon thanks to your unwavering support and dedication to our mission.
From January through October 2023, the nutrition team and partner sites around the tri-county delivered 92,522 Meals on Wheels and served 32,628 meals to seniors at community dining. Our information and referral team fielded 4,564 calls and visits, directing clients to vital resources around the area. To keep the organization running at full speed, our volunteer department and individual volunteer managers oversaw hundreds of volunteers, who gave 112,587 hours of service.
This year, we were proud to have a strong presence at community events, including the La Pine Rhubarb Festival, Bend Pride Festival, Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, Pickleball Pacific Northwest Classic, Latino Fest, and wellness fairs and farmers markets across Central Oregon. Engaging with the community has been instrumental in distributing resources, meeting community members, and raising awareness.
Our recent Food Fur All campaign for our Pet Pals program raised a total of $15,575 in donations from individuals, organizations, and businesses, plus hundreds of dollars worth of pet food and supplies. A special thank you goes out to the Hope Foundation for helping us reach our goal. These funds will play a crucial role in ensuring seniors don’t have to make a hard choice between caring for themselves or feeding their pets. In addition, our team was thrilled to have received numerous grants, including ones from the Central Oregon Health Council ($150,000), Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund ($100,000), and JTMF Foundation ($80,000).
As we look ahead to the new year, we are filled with optimism and determination to continue our mission of enhancing the quality of life for seniors in Central Oregon. Your ongoing support is the bedrock of our success, and we are deeply grateful for your help in this vital work.
Wishing you a joyful holiday season and a wonderful New Year!
Cassie Regimbal, LMSW
Nourish Our Neighbors
In the heart of Central Oregon, the specter of hunger looms closer than we might imagine. Last year alone, we served a staggering 137,815 meals to our neighbors. However, the need continues to grow, urging us to keep working to feed homebound seniors in our community.
A nutritious diet is not just a luxury; it is a cornerstone for our older loved ones to maintain good health and live independently. The stark reality is that, with the escalating cost of living, many find themselves struggling to put food on their tables.
In these challenging times, our collective effort becomes crucial. Your support can be the difference between someone going hungry or receiving well-rounded, balanced meals full of fresh fruits, vegetables, protein, and essential nutrients.
Your generosity will play a pivotal role in ensuring that our most vulnerable neighbors receive the food they need to foster healthy aging and maintain their independence.
“Last year, I wasn’t able to buy groceries and ended up in the hospital with malnourishment. I worked with a Council on Aging case manager who signed me up for Meals on Wheels. I’ve been able to eat consistently since they started delivering meals, and I’ve been much healthier.”
– Silvia, Meals on Wheels client
Spotlight on Our Contracted Meals Sites
The Council on Aging contracts with the La Pine Activity Center, the Jefferson County Senior Center, Prineville Senior Center Charitable Trust, and the Redmond Senior Center to provide community dining and Meals on Wheels across the tri-county. They are invaluable partners who ensure that older adults in Central Oregon can access nutritious food and social engagement.
This year has seen many exciting changes at these organizations, including an excellent new site manager Bea Bolton in Madras, who is working with her team to establish an internship program with Youth Career Connect. Jessica Lewis is the new site manager in Prineville and has been a fantastic partner to our organization. The Redmond Senior Center brought on Randy Graves to oversee and grow the Center, including the completion of their kitchen remodel. Jamie Donahue, the Director at La Pine Activity Center, has created a robust activity schedule, hosted events like the holiday bazaar and Rhubarb Festival, and created intergenerational programming to name a few of her achievements.
New Board and Advisory Council Members
Advisory Council: Kari Hutchinson, Debra Patterson, Esther Reed, Kathy Withey
Board of Directors: Elizabeth Johnson, Carmen Madrid, Jane Anne Pighin
Our gratitude goes out to Sharlene Wills, who retired from the Board in June after two years of service. Sharlene’s perspective and insights during a pivotal time for our organization were truly appreciated.
We would also like to give a special recognition to Louise Muir and Gloria DiSanto for their outstanding work on the Advisory Council over the past six years. They are retiring from the Council this month and have been voices of wisdom that have sparked fresh ideas and growth for our organization.
Shoutout to Our SHIBA Team!
One of the Council on Aging’s core programs is Medicare counseling, performed by volunteers trained by the state Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program. These SHIBA counselors, known fondly as our Medicare wizards, are astonishingly knowledgeable about the ins and outs of Medicare and care deeply about the beneficiaries they serve. They were able to gently navigate beneficiaries through the changing landscape of Medicare Advantage plans after the St. Charles Health System changed what plans they would accept.
So far this year, they have provided 730 counseling appointments and have given presentations about Medicare across the tri-county. We can’t thank our SHIBA volunteers enough for their dedication to the program, and we are especially grateful for our Program Administrator, Tia Linschied, for her leadership of this fantastic team.
Thank you Jim Ammeson, Ana Bueno, Tracy Gu, Kathleen Harrington, Sally Heise, Lynn Poole, John Sundell, Debbie Rieke, Joyce Mason, Kerry Balmer, Tyler Blackwell, and Dave Eisenlohr.
Caring Connections Happy Hour
Caring Connections is a program that matches a volunteer with an older adult for weekly phone calls or in-person visits.
We had our first in-person Caring Connections Happy Hour on November 9th, which was a fun and heart-warming event. Some of our matches who had only talked on the phone finally met each other in person! We are excited to host many more of these events in the upcoming year.
If you know someone who might be interested in Caring Connections as a participant or as a volunteer, call us at (541) 678-5483.