COLUMBIA — Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell will bring his “Face of Aging” Tour to the Buffalo Senior Citizens Center in early September to talk with local seniors and to see for himself what services are being provided for them.
On Tuesday, Sept. 4 and Wednesday, Sept. 5, McConnell will travel through Chester, Lancaster, York, and Union Counties to visit area nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and senior centers while on the Face of Aging Tour of the state. The purpose of the tour is to assess existing aging services and gather suggestions on improvements from local seniors, adults living with disabilities, families, service providers, caregivers, residents, and community leaders. An open forum for public input has also been scheduled for the visit.
“Finding ways to make meaningful improvements to current aging services in South Carolina is my top priority, and I don’t understand how substantive change can be made without discussing some of these issues face-to-face,” McConnell said. “I want the opportunity to interact with communities across our state, hear ideas and recommendations, and address any questions that concerned citizens may have.”
The forum will take place in Rock Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 4, in the Barnes Theater at the Baxter Hood Center, York Technical College campus. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public. Informative handouts will be available, and those in attendance will be able to voice concerns, if they so desire.
As the state’s chief advocate for our senior population, McConnell said he hopes to bring the subject of aging to the forefront and involve multiple generations in discussions.
“We can no longer afford to keep kicking this can to the next legislative session or beyond the next presidential election,” he remarked. “Serious consequences are in store for South Carolina if we fail to act.”
While every facility cannot be visited by the year’s end, the goal of McConnell and the Office on Aging is to establish a snapshot of existing programs and services in each county so that strategies may be developed and improvements can be implemented in order to proactively prepare for the upcoming increase in South Carolina’s senior population, which is projected to more than double in the next 20 years.
Hank Page, communications director for the lieutenant governor’s office, said Friday that while in Union County, McConnell will visit the Buffalo Senior Citizens Center at 10 a.m. While there, Page said McConnell will tour the facility and then at 10:30 a.m. address the seniors in attendance. Following his address, Page said McConnell will accompany Earl Black, director of the Union County Council on Aging, to deliver meals to some Union County seniors. He said he will then visit some local nursing home facilities.
Black welcomed McConnell’s visit, describing it as an opportunity to let the lieutenant governor learn first hand about the needs of Union County’s senior citizens and the efforts being made on their behalf locally.
“He wants to see what we’re doing, and we want to show him,” Black said Friday. “We’re extremely excited that we have someone in Columbia in the lieutenant governor’s office who is interested in our aging population. He’s going to visit some of the larger counties, he’ll be in Rock Hill the day before he is here. When he visits us, he’ll see what a small county does to meet the needs of its senior citizens.”
Black said there are slightly more than 6,000 senior citizens in Union County, and the Council on Aging provides them with a number of services.
“What we’re doing now is we do meals in our centers and home-delivered meals,” Black said. “The lieutenant governor is going to visit some of the homes we go into in the Buffalo area.
“We do exercise programs, we have an exercise room here at the Union center and there’s a large exercise center in Jonesville sponsored by the Town of Jonesville,” he said. “Those folks up there do wonders for us. We’re in the Jonesville Municipal Complex in the old cafeteria and (Mayor) Ernest Moore and the council have been very generous to us, as has Union County Council. I’ve never had a time when I went to county council that they’ve refused us.”
Black said the Council on Aging has partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to provide food boxes to the needy among the elderly throughout the county. He pointed out that the Cross Keys Fire Department is doing a food distribution for the Council on Aging today.
“They’ve been doing it for about a year,” Black said. “We get the food to them and they do the work. Council Member Dora Martin-Jennings does all the paperwork and the community packages the boxes and distributes them.”
In addition, Black said the Council on Aging provides home came services to seniors who cannot get out so they can remain in their homes. The council also provides transportation services for seniors who cannot drive, taking them to the store to shop for groceries and to the centers for socializing.
For more information about the Union County Council on Aging and the services it provides, call 429-1682.