I had the opportunity to participate in the needs assessment public hearing where the Seniors Division solicits input from seniors, agencies and others are the needs of the senior community for the purpose of gaining the annual Area Plan grant. I noted during the virtual hearing conducted through webex that this is my third year on the County Board and I have participated in this hearing every year because I believe the public hearing, along with the survey and needs assessment, are of great value to the county in making decisions regarding senior services. And, by the way, the Area Plan grant last year was for $845,000, which is no small amount of funding used to help the seniors.
Those who participated heard great support for the meals on wheels program, the senior center itself, and transportation issues for seniors, to name a few of the issues brought up. It was interesting to learn that Over 60% of respondents noted they have connected with friends and family through social media platforms during the pandemic. Our senior community is becoming more and more technology savvy. I am advised that new information has come to the fore, as according to Human Services Department Director Meagan O’Reilly that For the first time in recent memory, Seniors are more interested in the educational and language programs offered by the Division than the Fitness classes.
This is the first occasion in recent history that the fitness classes were ranked second by survey respondents. I was pleased to note that during the public comment period Seniors thanked the Division staff for doing such a great job throughout the pandemic to keep Seniors in the community engaged. And it may be that virtual programming is here to stay, as some Seniors expressed that they prefer the virtual class options, reporting that it saves them time.
Learning about changing attitudes and desired programming is why we conduct the hearing, survey, and assessment. It was a worthwhile event.