The program is a non-profit organization, and started in 1975 with a senior center sponsored by West End Ministry. In 1979, the center incorporated and became known as USSA, and today has representation to its board of directors from every senior organization in Scioto County.
“Each county in the state was mandated to have a multipurpose senior center, so we are the recognized focal point for Scioto County. We provide all kinds of supportive, in-home services,” USSA Director Renee Ellis said. “We do in-county transportation, and out-of-county medical transportation. We go to Columbus, Cincinnati, Ashland and Huntington.”
At the USSA Day Center, families caring for disabled loved ones can leave them at the center for a while, while they run errands, or simply enjoy a little respite knowing their loved ones are safe and cared for.
The center also has homemaker and legal assistance services, and shopping trips every month for area seniors who can’t drive themselves, and also home-bound escort services for people more than 60 who need more one-on-one assistance. One of the most important services offered right now is the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
At the center, seniors can also play bingo every day, and enjoy lunch prepared by the Community Action Organization. They also had a New Year’s Eve party lunch on Wednesday, to celebrate the coming of 2009. Ellis said the interests of their clientele have changed over the past 30 years, reflecting the growing independence of their generation.
Ellis said the center receives funding from the Ohio Department of Aging, through the Area Agency on Aging, and also through a Senior Services Levy in Scioto County. She said the community has always generously supported the levy renewal options. The center also has volunteers through programs like R.S.V.P., and always accepts donations from the public.
“Sometimes all people need is a ride to the grocery store, or a ride to their doctor, and they’re able to stay at home. And since there’s not much employment opportunities in our area, people’s families have had to leave the area for jobs. So even if they do have family members, they’re not always here to take them to those doctor’s appointments."
For the past 10 years, May Davis, 81, of Wheelersburg, has been just one of hundreds of seniors who have relied on USSA services.
“Tina (A USSA representative) had gone to the store and she got my stuff and put it away. She helped me do different things because I was sick,” Davis said. “And several times they’ll take me where I need to go. I’ll be going two days a week to speech therapy. Then a lot of times they’ll let me just ride around with them, to get out and see things.”
Davis said she’s unable to do some things for herself, like shopping or driving to her doctor. She said without the help of USSA, those things couldn’t be done. She also enjoys eating at the center, but said she’s been too sick to go anywhere lately.
She’s also made a few new friends through the USSA services, including a neighbor she never knew until they met through USSA.
“I think most of the folks are very appreciative of the things we can do for them. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not enough. I worry about not being able to do enough for folks,” Ellis said.
But Davis said USSA does more than enough for people like her — likening them to a real family.
“Everyone of them is smiling, and if you’re down in the dumps then by the time they get you home you’re feeling better. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have their services,” she said.
Ellis said the only qualification to participate in USSA services is that a person is over 60 years old, but noted there is a waiting list for some services. For more information, contact the center at (740) 354-6672.
RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.