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ADRC - Your No Wrong Door to Programs and Services


SOWEGA Council on Aging recognizes its volunteers
Hundreds of volunteers contribute to SOWEGA Council on Aging services


Annual Report out now, Annual Meeting 11/16/17


Four educational events set in coming weeks at SOWEGA Council on Aging


A recent change in policy called the Standard Medical Deduction could mean more food stamps for seniors & people who get Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits.


12th annual Comedy Night fundraiser /10 @ 6:30pm


A huge thank you to sponsors: Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, CTSI, & Central Monitoring and all of the guests that came out and enjoyed our food, games and tours.


New leadership at SOWEGA Council on Aging builds on existing legacy


A dozen artists who produced 35 pieces had their artwork on display


The Coalition of Advocacy for Georgia Elderly gives update on aging budget, legislation


Listening session in Albany focuses on senior hunger

One in four seniors in south Georgia is unsure of where the next meal will come from.


Tennis match serves up support for Meals-on-Wheels


Community support vital for Meals on Wheels program

View full story at


Kay Hind leaving a legacy


Board Announces Transition Plan Following Hind's Retirement. Photo




Empty Bowls raises funds for Albany Area Arts Council and SOWEGA Council on Aging. Photo


Georgia state budget proposal includes new funding for seniors


Empty Bowls organizers say they hope Albany event will help bring community together - Sixth annual fundraiser in Albany will take place Wednesday as scheduled.


Kay Hind Announces Retirement After 49 Years of Service


2016 Annual Report


RSVP Ramp Crew and First Responders Build Ramp for Turner Elementary Student


The Senior Hunger Summit is calling all experts, policy makers and community stakeholders to help raise awareness and seek solutions for senior hunger in our communities.


Kay Hind reappointed to state Council on Aging


SOWEGA Council on Aging Comedy Night fundraiser set for Aug. 4


Senior Fitness on the Rise in Albany - Albany News Herald Story


23rd Annual Shades of Gold Senior Art Show


3rd Annual "Serving Up Meals" Tennis Tournament a Success!


The 2016 Serving Up Meals tournament has over 80 players registered to play for the cause! Thank you to all who contributed to make this event a success.


Mayor honors SOWEGA Council on Aging, RSVP


SORRY, WE ARE FULL - NO APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE. Free tax counseling and preparation with E-Filing for taxpayers of middle and low income, with special attention to those 60 and older.


Empty Bowls 2016


Dougherty County Rotary Club delivers gifts for Santa for Seniors 2015


Council on Aging Looks Back Over Year


GeorgiaCares Open Enrollment is Oct 15 - Dec 7. Medicare questions? Call 1-866-552-4464 (Option 4) Click link below to view short videos explaining the program.


Legislators conduct Kinship Care study meeting at SOWEGA Council on Aging


SOWEGA Council on Aging RSVP program makes Teddy Bears


The Rotary Club of Dougherty County Delivers Air Conditioning to Seniors in Need


Comedy Night - an evening with Mark Lowry & Stan Whitmire


USDA DEPUTY SECRETARY, Krysta Harden, a Camilla native, tours SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center


The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging awarded Hind with the Excellence in Leadership Award 2015


Please check on your elderly friends, family and neighbors during extreme heat


Shades of Gold Senior Art Show 2015 June 4th at Albany Museum of Art


SOWEGA Council on Aging has a waiting list of people need ramp build


SOWEGA Council on Aging Program Update - Albany News Herald


Falling: One of the biggest, most preventable, threats to our lives - Georgia Health News


Golden K Kiwanis Honor Veterans


Registration Deadline is April 27 - register here on EVENTS tab


Gary Barg article, Today's Caregiver Magazine


House Bill 46 moves the Division of Aging Services to the Department of Community Health


Thanks to the Albany Woman's Club and Mark's Greenhouses Nursery, the Kay H. Hind sign now includes a beautiful flower bed.


Thanks Mom & Dad Fund Awards Grant for Fall Prevention Program


Age 60+ Computer Classes available - Register now!


FREE Health Screenings for Seniors Age 60+


Free Tax Prep Program Sponsored by RSVP Program


Empty Bowls 2015 - a sold out event


Tai Chi for Arthritis, an Evidence Based Program


RSVP Volunteers build ramp for injured teenager


Empty Bowls 2015 - Serving Up Awareness


This event benefits Empty Bowls, a collaboration with the Albany Area Arts Council. REGISTER on the EVENTS tab.


Santa for Seniors 2014


Last minute assistance available for Medicare Open Enrollment


SOWEGA Council on Aging builds raised bed garden for seniors


Call the SOWEGA Council on Aging to make an appointment to review your Medicare plan. Open Enrollment is October 15 - December 7.


SOWEGA Council on Aging Serves More People


Albany Herald article - Carlton Fletcher: Area senior citizens add to graying work force


SOWEGA Council on Aging hosted Open House - over 150 people attended seeking information and resources on Aging & Disability


On Nov 6, 2014, the C.O.P.E (Community Outreach Programs and Education) held a lunch & learn at the SOWEGA Council on Aging.


That's A Wrap! Lunch & Learn a HUGE success!


The SOWEGA Council on Aging receives $1 million Capital Grant from Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation


"The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Ballroom" dedication will be on Thursday, September 18 at 11:00am at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center. Join us to hear more...


The Division of Aging is interested in receiving input from Southwest Georgia.


This 6-week course provides important information to Caregivers, register NOW for September.


Bank of America donates to Meals on Wheels program


Buy tickets on EVENTS tab.


Ladies of all ages can get dressed up and enjoy high tea. Tickets on sale now at 335 W. Society Avenue in Albany. $10 per person, benefiting our seniors!


Meeting to be held at the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany. Learn about important legislative updates concerning seniors.


Purchase tickets for Dinner & Dancing on the EVENTS TAB. Join us in celebrating the Grand Opening of the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany.


Basic Computer Class - Register NOW...seating is limited!


Do you have concerns about falling? Find answers at the next class...register NOW!


Empty Bowls Raises Awareness


See the "Publications" page for updated agency information


2013 Annual Meeting


Budget Cuts, Sequestration, Programs, and New Senior Life Enrichment Center Updates


Register now for the 2013 Caregiver Lunch & Learn Seminar


Enhancing the health of GOLDEN rams in their GOLDEN years! Don't miss out on this important information.


Tod Allen Herendeen show to benefit Council on Aging


Registration is now open for the "Serving Up Meals" tennis tournament


Albany City Leaders Unanimously Approve $300,000 SPLOST for Senior Center


Seniors concerned about losing Meals on Wheels program and more.


Coach Jesse Massey gives back to COA and community


Massey Supports Senior Life Enrichment Center


A Gift That Travels A Long Way


Darden Restaurants support Meals on Wheels


8th Annual Comedy Night Raises Funds for Meals on Wheels


SOWEGA Council on Aging Faces Major Budget Cuts


Humor Raises Money for Serious Needs


Sweet Potatoes Fashion Show Benefits Meals on Wheels! Show your support for this local business on August 3rd 12-4pm at the Hilton Garden Inn.


Chronic Disease Self Management Program...valuable information that can change your life!


This 6-week course provides a "tool Kit" for Caregivers


COPE shares important healthcare information with seniors!


8th Annual Comedy Night is August 15th with Dr. Dennis Swanberg - Tickets available NOW!


Kay Hind Receives Lifetime Achievement Award


City Officials and Board of Directors tour construction site


Medicare Diabetes Prevention Screenings are FREE!


Congratulations Charlie Phillips - and Thank You!


Juleps, Jockeys and Jazz 2013 a success!


Programs Face Big Budget Cuts


Phoebe Community Visions helps fund "A Matter of Balance" - fall prevention program


GoDirect deadline March 1, 2013


Tax Preparation ongoing through April 15


Thank you Shane Kelley and Monsanto Fund!


Dr. Grant Speaks at Senior Center


Thank you to all generous Potters, Restaurants, Schools, and Volunteers. We appreciate the community for embracing "Empty Bowls" and the 400 ticket holders that brought the event to life!


It's Time for the 2nd Annual Empty Bowls


We appreciate all who attended the Public Hearings. Your input is extremely valuable to our organization!


2012 Annual Meeting


Thank you to everyone who participated in the success of Empty Bowls 2013!


Nov. 8, 2012 - Family Caregiver Program - Lunch & Learn


The SOWEGA Council on Aging breaks ground on the Albany Senior Life Enrichment Center. October 18, 2012


100 people came to this seminar and learned how to protect, detect and report abuse and financial exploitation.


Seniors display art at Shades of Gold Art Show, June 7, 2012


Comedy Night a success!


2012 Martha Eaves Advocating for Positive Change Award





Date Posted: January 18, 2018
Interested in issues affecting older and disabled adults? Join CO-AGE today and let your voice be heard.

CO-AGE is open to any individual, business, organization or agency interested in issues affecting older and disabled adults. Participants are encouraged to voice their concerns, submit issues for the prioritization process, and engage in joint advocacy efforts. 

Membership Benefits

  • Most current updates and news on meetings/conferences/events involving senior related concerns
  • Ability to submit legislative and budget priority issues
  • Voting privileges for Legislative Issues each year (1 per individual, 5 per organization)
  • Subscription to Senior Issues Email Newsletter (monthly issues, weekly during session)
  • Invitation to all CO-AGE events and meetings
  • Important Advocacy Alerts on issues impacting seniors in Georgia
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Date Posted: December 28, 2017
ADRC - Your No Wrong Door to Programs and Services


Date Posted: August 29, 2018


Date Posted: May 01, 2018


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Date Posted: February 12, 2018


Date Posted: December 20, 2017
SOWEGA Council on Aging recognizes its volunteers

SOWEGA Council on Aging recognizes its volunteers
Hundreds of volunteers contribute to SOWEGA Council on Aging services

By Jennifer Parks of the Albany Herald
Click for online article

ALBANY — There are roughly 400 volunteers who the SOWEGA Council on Aging depends on to offer a variety of services that its staff and clients have considered to be of significant value.

On Tuesday, they were recognized at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center for their efforts.

"This is a way to say thank you," Debbie Blanton, executive director for the Council on Aging, said. "It's our Christmas party to our volunteers.

"We could not afford to have the staffing to do what these volunteers do. ... How can you put a price (on their contribution)? It is invaluable."

The volunteers take part in services including teaching classes, meal delivery, nursing home visitation, making teddy bears for children at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, building ramps, going into schools to mentor children, assisting seniors in filling out their taxes, participating in neighborhood watches, helping with dementia patients, working in soup kitchens, calling in to check on vulnerable seniors and visiting in with Veterans Affairs patients.

Given the number of activities they are involved in, there is a constant need and constant effort to recruit — and the need keeps growing.

"We have all kinds of opportunities," Blanton said. "Our community would be handicapped severely if it were not for the role these volunteers (fill).

"We can find a place for you."

Marilyn Westbrook, the Council on Aging's Retired Senior Volunteer Program project director, said the volunteers the agency depends on provide critical services to the community that may not otherwise be fulfilled — and they save a good amount of money in doing so.

That is a good reason to make sure volunteers continue to give of their time.

"Volunteers come and some of them go," she said. "We try to get them to stay and keep them engaged."

Westbrook noted the significance of veterans giving of their time and talents. 

"They serve their country," she said. "Now they serve their community."

Peggy Lyons, a wellness volunteer based in East Albany, summed up at the luncheon her reason for volunteering.

"We can be here, but we want to live well," she said.

During the recognition program, Blanton gave similar remarks on the importance of veterans serving, connecting it to the sense of integrity and faith it takes to engage in volunteerism.

"Why does a person serve? Because serving our country is part of serving humanity," she said.


Date Posted: November 15, 2017
Docs and Dinners

Medical experts say the number of South Georgians suffering from dementia is increasing and that makes the importance of caregivers for loved ones with dementia even more vital.

A caregivers support forum was held in Albany Tuesday night.

The Southwest Georgia (SOWEGA) Council on Aging held its 1st annual Docs and Dinners event Tuesday night to help answer some of the tough questions associated with dementia.

The event was hosted by SOWEGA Council on Aging and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

"We hear all the time how people don't actually get a chance to ask the questions to their doctor," said SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Debbie Blanton. "We have caregiver programs, the Alzheimer Outreach Center has a daycare center so they will learn about local resources that are available," said Blanton.

Neurologist Dr. Marla Morgan said asking for help is one of the first things she stresses to families dealing with dementia.

"I really encourage family members to do that because that can minimize the stress on the caregiver," said Morgan.

Because one of the biggest concerns doctors see is the caregiver neglecting their own health.

"If they are not in good shape, they can't take care of the patient," said Morgan.

And Although there is no cure for dementia, the best thing to do in this situation is enjoy life day by day.

"So you get comfortable being in their world and I hope that is what comes out of this today," said Blanton.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging said this was their first event held for caregivers and patients with dementia, but they will continue to hold events within the coming months.

Click for video


Date Posted: November 09, 2017
Annual Report 2017

The SOWEGA Council on Aging recently released updated data on the services its offers to its 14-county population via this year's annual report.

Council on Aging officials said there is a total population of 67,369 people aged 60 and older in the organization's coverage area, and each county has its own senior enrichment centers. Its senior centers serve as a base for programs and services in crafts, entertainment, educational activities, exercise programs and outreach activities.

"Research shows that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental and economic well-being," the annual report said.

The Albany center includes meeting rooms occasionally rented out for special events. At the centers, 883 people were served 113,477 congregate meals, the report said.

The annual report also said senior farmers market nutrition program issued 579 vouchers worth $20 each, and the chronic disease self-management program has 23 participants with two trainers conducting two workshops. Tai Chi for Arthritis had 196 participants with 10 trainers conducting 14 workshops.

"A Matter of Balance," a program addressing concerns related to falls or loss of balance, had 15 participants with two master trainers conducting two workshops, the report said.

The Aging and Disability Resource Connection, meant to help people find information on a wide range of long-term support options, had a total of 7,481 referrals in Fiscal Year 2017. The community care services program, which provides alternatives to nursing homes for people who are Medicaid eligible, had 552 clients and generated $18,453.70 in savings per person, the report said.

The Council on Aging also has representatives in the long-term care ombudsmen program, which monitors issues related to abuse or neglect. The Council's service area includes 82 personal care homes, 22 nursing homes and 37 community living arrangements, and there were 1,245 complaints resolved over the year — while 1,105 consultations were given to facilities, the report said.

"Money Follows the Person," allowing someone who has resided in an institutional setting for at least 90 days with services paid to Medicaid the opportunity to discuss transitioning options, conducted 18 transitions from July 1, 2016-June 30. Georgia Cares, which provides information about Medicare benefits, provided counseling to 1,346 beneficiaries over the year, the report said.

The adult day care and in-home respite care helped 45 families and 25 families, respectively, in Southwest Georgia while also offering support groups for caregivers consisting of 20 members. Georgia's legal services program, meanwhile, closed 243 cases, while the retired senior volunteer program built 80 ramps for disabled people and made 100 teddy bears for children at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the report said.

Meals on Wheels served 917 clients 176,304 meals, and homemaker services served 126 clients and put in 9,862 service hours. Case management services helped 250 clients, putting in 4,291 service hours, the report said.

Incorporated in 1966, the Council on Aging provides, develops and coordinates services for all people aged 60 and older in a 14-county, 600-square-mile area of Southwest Georgia. Its administrative offices are located at 335 W. Society Ave.

- Jennifer Parks, Albany Herald


Date Posted: November 02, 2017
Four educational events set in coming weeks at SOWEGA CoA

It is a busy season coming up for the SOWEGA Council on Aging, including four educational events taking place through the end of the year.

The Council on Aging will be hosting a free smartphone education class for Android users from 10 a.m.-noon on Thursday. This class is free and open to the public and will be provided by the city of Albany Technology and Communication Department.

Participants are asked to bring their own smartphones.

The Council on Aging will later host the annual caregiver lunch and learn at 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Nov. 9. The guest speaker will be Babs Hall, family caregiver and corporate compliance officer at Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services.

November is National Caregiver Month and the Regional Caregiver of the Year Award winners will be announced during the event. The lunch and learn is open to all family caregivers and there is a registration fee of $15.

The registration deadline for the event is Nov. 6.

There is also a chronic disease self-management course taking place from 9:30-noon every Wednesday from Nov. 8-Dec. 13. Officials said the program is appropriate for any adults experiencing chronic health conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and diabetes. Their family members, friends and caregivers can also participate.

The program provides information through the Living Well Workshops, which teach practical skills on managing chronic health problems. It is meant to give people the confidence and motivation they need to manage the challenges of living with a chronic condition.

The registration fee for the six-week course is $10.

Docs and Dinners is set for 6 p.m.-8 p.m. on Nov. 14. Dr. Marla Morgan, neurologist with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, will discuss dementia and then take questions from the audience. It is free, but reservations will be required.

It is being sponsored by the SOWEGA Council on Aging, the Alzheimer's Outreach Center and Phoebe Physicians Group. Registration is required by Nov. 10.

All the events are taking place at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center, located at 335 W. Society Ave.

The Council on Aging plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for all people 60 years of age and older in a 14-county, 6,000-square-mile area of Southwest Georgia. The administrative offices are open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Monday-Friday at the enrichment center, and can be reached at (229) 432-1124.

Those seeking reservations for the lunch and learn and Docs and Dinners should call (229) 435-6789.

Albany Herald article


Date Posted: August 01, 2017
Public Benefits: Food Stamps

A recent change in policy called the Standard Medical Deduction, or SMED, could mean more food stamps for seniors and people who get Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.

Under the old policy, only 15% of the seniors and people who get SS/SSI disability benefits who receive food stamps in Georgia actually received a medical expense deduction under the old policy even when they were eligible. SMED, the new policy, makes a one-time application for standard medical expense deduction possible, and the monthly deduction can increase food stamp eligibility significantly.

Click for more info


Date Posted: July 19, 2017
12th annual Comedy Night fundraiser

Coordinators for the annual Comedy Night being conducted by the SOWEGA Council on Aging said they still have tickets, and silent auction donation and sponsorship opportunities, available for an event that has generated strong enthusiasm in the weeks leading up to it.

"Right now, we are still looking for sponsors (through the end of this week)," Council on Aging Associate Director Izzie Sadler said. "We are really looking for items for silent auction."

The Council on Aging's 12th annual Comedy Night, featuring David Crowe, has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Aug. 10 at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center.

This year's event will include a silent auction, followed by a dinner and Crowe's performance at 6:30 p.m. It is meant to deliver clean humor appropriate for all ages while supporting the Meals on Wheels program throughout 14 counties in Southwest Georgia.

The silent auction is beneficial in that it is another way to raise money while giving attendees something to do while they are waiting for the program to start. That time also allows for an opportunity to educate people about what the Council on Aging does.

The event typically brings in $35,000-$40,000. Doug Lorber, a frequent contributor to the fundraiser, will serve as the master of ceremonies this year.

Crowe is described as "a brilliant combination of socially relevant, issue-fired intellectualism and physical buffoonery." He takes on topical subjects, historical events and personal experiences, and has won both the Seattle International Comedy and the San Francisco International Comedy competitions.

Crowe opened for President Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Committee's Saxophone Club fundraiser. He has been featured on Showtime with his own comedy special, "Crooked Finger," along with appearances on Comedy Central, Bob & Tom Radio, SiriusXM and Pandora.

"We are excited about Crowe's performance, because he is different from the other comedians we've had," Sadler said.

Meals on Wheels provides warm, nutritious meals to homebound individuals. Food insecurity is a concern nationally, and Meals on Wheels in Southwest Georgia serves more than 185,000 meals annually to 650 people.

"Now more than ever, there are more cuts coming down the road with Meals on Wheels," Sadler said. "There are more seniors than there is funding. There is a growing need, and there are more frail seniors in a rural area."

While serving as a source of nutrition, the program also serves as a safety check.

"We have had volunteers go out to the house and find someone is ill," Sadler said.

Counties that benefit from the Council on Aging's program are Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas and Worth.

Tickets are $40 and can be bought by coming to the Council on Aging at 335 W. Society Ave. Apart from individual tickets, five sponsorship levels are available, ranging from "Listing" for $100-$249 for inclusion in the program to the $2,500 or more "Gold Level," which includes a full-page advertisement in the event program.

Online purchases have been closed, and it is not anticipated that tickets will be sold at the door.

The Council on Aging plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for all people 60 years of age and older in a 14-county area. The administrative offices can be reached at (229)-432-1124.

Jennifer Parks - Albany Herald


Date Posted: June 27, 2017

A huge thank you to sponsors: Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, CTSI, & Central Monitoring and all of the guests that came out and enjoyed our food, games and tours. If you loved our facility and want more info on renting it for your next personal or corporate event, follow the link:

WALB Coverage


Date Posted: June 15, 2017

New leadership at SOWEGA Council on Aging builds on existing legacy

Albany Herald


Date Posted: June 15, 2017

A dozen artists who produced 35 pieces had their artwork on display Thursday at the SOWEGA Council on Aging's 24th annual Shades of Gold art show reception at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center.


Albany Herald


Date Posted: April 19, 2017
The Coalition of Advocacy for Georgia Elderly gives update on aging budget, legislation

The Coalition of Advocacy for Georgia Elderly gives update on aging budget, legislation

Read the full story here


Date Posted: April 12, 2017
Listening session in Albany focuses on senior hunger

Listening session in Albany focuses on senior hunger

One in four seniors in south Georgia is unsure of where the next meal will come from. 

Click for full article


Date Posted: April 12, 2017
Tennis match serves up support for Meals-on-Wheels

Tennis match serves up support for Meals-on-Wheels

Click for the full story


Date Posted: March 31, 2017
Community support vital for Meals on Wheels program

Community support vital for Meals on Wheels program

View full story at


Date Posted: March 23, 2017
Kay Hind leaving a legacy

Read full story at

Kay Hind leaving a legacy


Date Posted: March 23, 2017
CDBG cuts would not brake Meals on Wheels

See full story at

CDBG cuts would not brake Meals on Wheels


Date Posted: February 13, 2017
Board Announcement

See full story at  

Board Announcement


Date Posted: January 27, 2017


Date Posted: January 19, 2017
Empty Bowls raises funds for Albany Area Arts Council and SOWEGA Council on Aging

Click the following link for the full story at :


Date Posted: January 13, 2017
Georgia state budget proposal includes new funding for seniors

Click the following link for


Date Posted: January 12, 2017
Empty Bowls organizers say they hope Albany event will help bring community together - Sixth annual fundraiser in Albany will take place Wednesday as scheduled.



Date Posted: November 16, 2016
Kay Hind Announces Retirement After 49 Years of Service

ALBANY — Jennifer Parks

SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind announced at the agency’s annual meeting on Tuesday that she would retire after nearly half a century of service.

The meeting was held at the council’s Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center on West Society Avenue, where Hind discussed the agency’s 2016 Annual Report and the history and vision of the agency. The council’s nominating committee presented a slate of board members for the next three-year term.

Hind closed the meeting with an announcement that she will retire effective on March 31. She has been the executive director at the organization since 1967, 49 of the 50 years the agency has been in operation.

The agency began with an $8,000 budget, one employee and one volunteer. Under Hind’s direction, the agency has been designated as an Area Agency on Aging by the state and expanded into a $6 million operation with more than 20 programs serving more than 25,000 seniors per year while offering information and resources to 67,000 seniors living in Southwest Georgia.

“Working for the Council on Aging has been an exciting ride. Over the years, I have seen the programs developed and the services increase; but even more importantly, I have seen a lot of change in the attitude toward seniors and the focus on their value in our communities,” Hind said in a statement. “I am so pleased that we have been a part of this movement through our programs and services such as exercise, nutrition and education.

“Having the Senior Life Enrichment Center has allowed us to reach more seniors, and we look forward to expanding opportunities in the future.”

Hind made the announcement at the meeting with her family present, along with employees at the agency who have been there almost as long as she has. She said she intends to remain involved in advocacy efforts for aging services following her retirement.

The Senior Life Enrichment Center, which celebrated its grand opening in early 2014, is considered one of the greatest achievements by the agency under Hind’s leadership. Over the course of several years, she was one of the most outspoken advocates for the facility’s completion.

The Council on Aging was established in 1966 and works to coordinate a system of services that promotes the well-being and independence of older and disabled Georgians, helping them achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives. It serves seniors and disabled individuals in a 14-county service area.


Date Posted: November 16, 2016
2016 Annual Report

ALBANY — Jennifer Parks

The SOWEGA Council on Aging continues to offer a variety of services to senior citizens, with some major changes ahead.

Agency officials said Tuesday 67,369 elderly residents live in Southwest Georgia, roughly a quarter of whom are living in Dougherty County and nearly a third of whom are African-American. The Council on Aging’s mission is to plan, provide, develop and coordinate services for these individuals.

“There were 59,000 when I started, so I’m afraid we are all getting older,” said Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind, who announced at the meeting that she planned to retire in March.

The agency covers 14 counties, with a senior center location in each one. The centers face the challenge of providing services for an increasing elderly population.

“Senior centers are reinventing themselves to meet the needs and desires of the aging baby boomer generation,” the council’s annual report said. “Boomers currently constitute (two-thirds) of the 50 (and over) population. By the year 2030, one in five individuals in each community will be over the age of 65.”

Among the services offered is meals, from which some seniors served by the organization get their primary source of nutrition. In Fiscal Year 2016, 803 people and 119,803 congregate meals were served, the report said.

The Council on Aging utilizes evidence-based programs such as a chronic disease self-management program and Tai Chi for arthritis and balance training. The Tai Chi program had the heaviest participation, 517 participants, over the year, the annual report said.

The Aging and Disability Resource Connection, meant to connect people to long-term support options, had 5,277 initial incoming referrals in FY 2016. The Community Care Services program — which includes adult day health, alternative living services, emergency response system, home-delivered meals, skilled nursing and personal support services — was coordinated at a cost of $12.44 million as an alternative to nursing home placement for those who are Medicaid eligible, the annual report said.

Elder abuse prevention remains a priority in the council’s service area consisting of 82 personal care homes, 22 nursing homes and 37 community living arrangement homes. Over the year, four facility surveys and 589 routine visits were reported, the report said.

Money Follows the Person, which supports the transition of someone ready to leave an institutional setting, has seen seven transitions in Southwest Georgia from July 1, 2015-June 30 of this year. In the adult day care and in-home respite care, 22,941 day care service hours were provided and 5,410 hours for in-home respite care were provided in FY 2016.

Volunteer opportunities still continue through the GeorgiaCares Medicare program, senior centers, evidence-based programs, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, special events and Meals on Wheels. Such efforts produced 80 ramps for the disabled and elderly and an average of 100 cuddly bears per week made for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital patients — provided in part by veterans who logged in more than 3,000 hours for other veterans.

There were 176,304 home-delivered meals served, 9,862 hours were provided in homemaker services and 50 family caregiver clients were served over the year, the council’s annual report said.

“We still have a waiting list,” Hind said of the home-delivered meals.

The Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center, the Dougherty County center, also serves as the agency’s administrative offices. Among the services offered to seniors there are a gym with fitness equipment, craft rooms, computer lab, classroom and boardrooms with smart boards, a dining hall and ballroom, a den and TV room, kitchen and catering kitchen, and a delivery pick-up area for Meals on Wheels.

This is done within a 45,000-square-foot space located at 335 W. Society Ave. Trips, lunch-and-learns, as well as art classes, AARP safe driver courses, computer classes and space for special events are among the community resources offered on-site.


Date Posted: October 20, 2016
RSVP Ramp Crew and First Responders Build Ramp for Turner Elementary Student

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Ramp Crew, Albany Police Department, and Albany Fire Department built a ramp for the Turner Elementary child who was struck by a vehicle and suffered injuries.  

Check out the story here:


Date Posted: August 31, 2016
The Senior Hunger Summit is calling all experts, policy makers and community stakeholders to help raise awareness and seek solutions for senior hunger in our communities.

To view news story from WALB news:


Date Posted: July 07, 2016
Kay Hind reappointed to state Council on Aging

ALBANY HERALD — Chauntel Powell


Department of Human Services Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden announced the reappointment of four members to the Georgia Council on Aging earlier this week, including Southwest Georgia Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind.

Reappointed along with Hind were Sharise Thurman Reasonover, Joan T. Keenan and Lorene Lindsey. All four will serve two-year terms on the council that will end June 30, 2018.

In a press release from the Georgia Department of Human Services, Crittenden said, “The four individuals reappointed today have shown their commitment to making Georgia a better place for its senior citizens. I am confident they will continue to serve Georgia through advocacy for aging Georgians, and I look forward to working with them to promote programs that improve the quality of life of older residents in our state.”

Hind, who has served the Southwest Georgia area for more than 40 years, she said she’s excited to once again be a part of the state council because it allows her to be involved in something bigger than just her service area.

“It’s very important to me,” she said. “It gives me a chance to meet other people in the state that are advocating for the elderly and concerned about them. It also gives me the chance to participate in the legislature. I have an opportunity to find out what is being introduced and how it’s going (to affect the elderly) so I can take a stand if it’s something important to older people. That’s my concern.”

With the exception of three years, Hind has been working on the SOWEGA Council on Aging in various capacities since 1977. She’s set to continue serving on the state level as she heads to a council meeting in Macon to establish the priorities for the elderly. She said a number of proposals from those around the state are to be discussed.


Date Posted: July 08, 2016
SOWEGA Council on Aging Comedy Night fundraiser set for Aug. 4

ALBANY HERALD — Jennifer Parks


Tickets have been going fast for the 11th annual SOWEGA Council on Aging Comedy Night, which will have a few changes in store this year — including a new venue.

This year’s event, which will include magician/comedian Mark Robinson, is taking place Aug. 4at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave.

The move from the Albany Municipal Auditorium allows for an opportunity to showcase the center, gives the public a chance to see what is there, and also helps to save money — ensuring the event still remains an effective fundraiser for Meals on Wheels, organizers say.

“It is in a different place, and a different type of comedian,” said Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind. “We’ve never had that, and I think it will be fun.”

Robinson also carries the title of motivational speaker, which has the potential to make an interesting twist to the evening.

“It is going to be a nice, clean fun night of entertainment,” said Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging.

When attendees walk in the door, they will have the option of competing against their peers by bidding on silent auction items. A wide range of items are expected, including gift baskets and certificates from area businesses.

This year’s Comedy Night also serves as an opportunity to celebrate a milestone.

“Our 50th anniversary is this year, so this (event) will be a little bit in honor of that,” Sadler said.

Meals on Wheels provides 150 meals in Dougherty County every day to the homebound. In order to keep up with demand, there has to be some financial help from the community. It is the best known program offered through the Council on Aging, so there is a significant focus on supplementing it.

While funding is available from other sources, it is not nearly enough to sustain it.

“We really work to raise money to serve the people who need the meals,” Hind said.

As it is, there is already a waiting list of people needing meals, and there is a constant need for volunteers to deliver the meals so that fewer Council on Aging staff members have to be pulled to meet the demand.

It is a service some civic clubs have taken on as a project. It requires a car and a partner to participate.

“It is a really big help, but not a terrible burden to anybody,” Hind said.

Hind said about $40,000 is needed to sustain Meals on Wheels for the remainder of the year and still offer the same level of service it does now.

“We could cut back on the number of meals or not serve as good meals, but we would rather serve the people who need it,” she said.

Robinson’s biography says his comedy has gained rave reviews, an invitation to open for Jeff Foxworthy and an appearance with late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. He has won multiple awards, numerous engagements at Harrah’s Casinos and an invitation to perform for the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood. He has toured China, done halftime shows for the NBA and appeared in national TV commercials and filmed television shows.

He also has been sought after by Fortune 500 companies as a stress break for meetings, conventions and seminars across the country.

The doors open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and show at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person, and are available for purchase at or at the enrichment center. As of Thursday, only 60 tickets of the nearly 230 initially available remained.

For more information, call (229) 435-6789.


Date Posted: June 10, 2016
Senior Fitness on the Rise in Albany - Albany News Herald Story

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ALBANY — Chauntel Powell, Albany News Herald

December 20, 2015 is a day Frances Weintraub remembers quite vividly. The 88-year-old was walking through her home and suffered a nasty fall that broke her pelvis in two places and her tailbone in one.

For many her age, this could have resulted in a complete lack of mobility and dependency on others, but thanks to Weintraub’s active lifestyle, she was able to get back to her regular routine in almost no time.

“(My doctor) told me that it was amazing that I was in as good a health and shape as I was,” she said.

Just five months later, Weintraub was back in the front row of the SilverSneakers fitness class held at the Albany YMCA. SilverSneakers fitness has been a large part of Weintraub’s life since she started attending classes at what used to be Gold’s Gym over a decade ago and she said because of it, she was able to maintain her independent lifestyle.

“If it had not been for (instructor Sam McCormick), and I had not been exercising all this while, I fully believe that I would have been in the nursing home, laying on my back,” she said.

As the nation’s population grows ever grayer, a number of organizations are gearing fitness programs solely to seniors, offering classes that focus on health concerns that particularly impact that age group.

Weintraub had originally received a notice in the mail saying her insurance provider would pay the membership fee for classes if she signed up for the SilverSneakers program.

As of today, Weintraub is involved in Zumba Gold, line dancing, the annual Chile Run, several parades and more.

According to Bernie Scoggins, an internist and geriatrician at the South Albany Medical Center, incidents involving falls such as Weintraub’s are quite common among older adults.

“There’s a natural tendency as we get older to not pick our feet up as high and to take shorter steps,” Scoggins said. “And not picking your feet up as leads to tripping and falling, which is a real common thing.

“Part of it is loss of sensation in our nerve endings. And sometimes our feet cannot feel as well where we are in space. Sometimes our vision’s worse. Sometimes our balance mechanisms in our ears are not as good. It’s a combination of things all together.”

Scoggins added that falls by individuals of an advanced age are more dangerous. He said that as people get older, they’re much more prone to osteoporosis and have a tendency to fracture much more easily. The recovery time of falls is also elongated due to advanced age both physically and mentally.

“Once people fall, especially much older people, they fall one time and they get very scared,” he said. “Sometimes it affects their whole outlook, and they’re scared to do much of anything.”

Of the top health concerns for people over 65, including fractures and balance, Scoggins said exercise can help with many of them.

“Exercise helps get their muscles stronger, especially their legs, and if your leg muscles are stronger above and below the knee, then you’re less likely to fall down,” he said. “Also, exercise helps bones and helps prevent osteoporosis. Weight exercises help protect your bones. They also improve nutrition and helps people’s appetite.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, citizens 65 years-old and up made up 11.3 of Albany’s 77,434 population in 2010. As that number continues to grow, various organizations are expanding their programs to cater to this demographic and help keep them healthy and active.

McCormick has seen first-hand the growth of senior fitness. When she first started teaching at what used to be Gold’s Gym, there were only 12 participants in the senior program. Today, she may have 12 in the first row alone of her SilverSneakers fitness class. Having seen the effects exercise had on her own mother in terms of improving her health, McCormick has dedicated her time and services for the last 17 years to helping push mature adults in reaching their fitness goals.

The Albany Area YMCA has a slew of fitness programs for mature adults including aerobic tone, balanced body, chair yoga stretch, fun fit, water aerobics and several SilverSneakers classes.

Similarly, the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging has a handful of programs as well, including line dancing, chair fitness and tai chi for arthritis.

“In these programs, we have seen an extreme success rate,” McCormick said. “A lot of our mature adults that were on chronic medication, and when I say chronic I mean pain medicine, blood pressure medicine, things like that. I can say in 17 years, I’ve seen 50 percent being able to decrease their medication. And it’s because they’re in an avid fitness program.”

Shirley Brown, an instructor at the Council on Aging, said she has seen fitness among mature adults become a priority, too. She said she’s seen the number of those enrolled in her Tuesday/Thursday chair fitness class grow from 15 to 100 and average 45 participants a session.

At the council, she said they really embrace the four F’s — friends, fun, fellowship and fitness — to create an environment that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Brown said she’s been able to see a significant shift in the attitude of people in her classes.

“It boosts your mood and your self-confidence,” she said. “A lot of people that actually started in this class, they’ll run to the back because they didn’t want to be up front. Now that they know what to do and they know how important it is, they come in and they work out like everybody else.”

The social aspect is one reason Weintraub continued to return. She admitted that she was shy at first, but after coming regularly, went from a quiet member to the unofficial greeter in charge of making others feel welcome and comfortable. McCormick said that the members of her class have created their own fitness family.

“There’s a lot of seniors who’ve lost their husbands and wives,” she said. “I’ve got one senior who lost not only her husband, but her son as well. This is her family. And anybody that reaches out, their hearts are so big that it encompasses them.”

While numbers have improved significantly, McCormick said they’re nowhere near where they could be. Though more than 400 seniors participate in programs at the Y, she said there are more than 2,500 mature adults in Albany alone who are eligible for free membership in the programs through insurance.

She noted that the programs are easily accessible, but not limited major insurance carriers. She encouraged interested members to contact their health insurance provider to see if they qualify. Individuals who don’t qualify can still sign up for classes at a discount rate.

“At the Y, we have a reduced rate to where even those that don’t have that program, they can pay a reduced fee and still participate in everything we have here,” McCormick said. “There are a lot people out there who have the SilverSneakers Fitness Program and are not even walking through the doors using it. They are throwing it away.”

Participation in SOWEGA Council on Aging programs are completely free for any senior who signs up. Music, necessary equipment and other materials are provided. Brown said everyone who is of age should take full advantage.

“There’s no cost, it’s free, everything’s provided. So we say come,” she said.

Those interested can register at the YMCA at 1701 Gillionville Rd or call (229) 436-0531. SOWEGA Council on aging classes are held at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. The center can be reached at (229) 435-6789.


Date Posted: June 02, 2016
23rd Annual Shades of Gold - Senior Art Show


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In just her second year exhibiting in the event, Virgeline Duke’s acrylic painting “Birds of a Feather” was voted the Best of Show Thursday at the opening of the 23rd annual Shades of Gold Senior Art Show at the Albany Museum of Art.

The show will continue at the museum, located at 311 Meadowlark Drive adjacent to Darton State College, through the end of the month. Sixteen artists, all age 60 or older, entered 44 paintings in this year’s exhibit.

Asked if she was surprised about being voted favorite in the show by the crowd in attendance, Duke said, “Yes, I was. I just joined it because my husband started in the art class.”

Her husband, Frank Duke, in fact, kept the top awards in the family, getting first place for his acrylic “Forgotten Country.”

The Shades of Gold is an art group for those 60 and older that meets at 1 p.m. Mondays at the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. The participants, who provide their own materials, work in oils or acrylics, culminating each June with the AMA show.

Also winning ribbons Thursday were Judy McCoy, 2nd place, “Daddy’s Favorite Pastime”; Nancy Wade, 3rd Place, “Foggy Morning Turkey Trail”; Merit Award, Janet Bowen, “The Woodshed Door”; Merit Award, Lorene Gaughf, “Red Hot Peppers,” and People’s Choice, Carolyn Ross, “True Love.”

“I’ve enjoyed art and crafts of all kinds,” Virgeline Duke said, adding her entry was a paint-by-number acrylic.

Frank Duke said his wife’s painting had a great deal of detail. “It takes so long,” he said. “It’d drive me nuts trying to paint by numbers.”

His winning painting, “Forgotten Country,” was exhibited next to his wife’s “Birds.” He said his work, also in acrylic, was a composite of things he had seen.

“I pick elements out of different scenes,” he said. “The old truck — I remember my uncle had an old Chevy, and I just put that in. He had an old barn, and I put the old plow in there.”

Duke said he thought he might lose points because of presentation.

“I didn’t think I was going to win because my frame was small, it’s not an impressive frame,” Duke said. “So that’s a shock.”

While he’s had a wrist injury that’s cut down on his artwork recently, Duke and his wife say they’ve been painting together both at class and at home.

Frank Duke said this was his fifth Shades of Gold show. Virgeline Duke is relatively new to painting, but her husband started in watercolors a decade or more ago.

“Back about 10 or 15 years ago, I started in art, then time constraints prevented me from doing it,” Frank Duke said. “I got out of it.

“Then we had some rainy weather and I said, ‘I’ll try some acrylics.’ I got back in it. I just love acrylics, and I found out about the class.”

Paula Williams, executive director of the Albany Museum of Art, said she was impressed by the talent.

“Pretty amazing,” she said. “I was just talking to one of the members, and she said she’s only been painting for two years and she’s done some fabulous work.

“I think, more than anything else, it brings them such happiness to produce these works of art, and I think they’re just really from the heart and full of love, and that certainly shows on the walls.”


Date Posted: April 16, 2016

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ALBANY — Brad McEwen

Scores of amateur and professional tennis players flocked to Albany over the weekend for the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s annual Serving Up Meals tennis event at Doublegate Country Club.

The event, which is now in its third year, is a way to raise awareness about the many programs and services provided throughout South Georgia by the Council on Aging, especially the organization’s Meals on Wheels program that helps feed thousands of homebound residents each year.

According to SOWEGA Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler, who spearheads the event, this year’s Serving Up Meals tennis tournament drew 80 participants from around Southwest Georgia and North Florida to compete in the club-level tournament.

Sadler said the event, which continues today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., also drew eight professionals who will showcase their talents while competing for a $1,000 purse.

“They are going to fight for the opportunity to play for $1,000,” said Sadler. “Having the pros play is a way for the club players to see some really good tennis, to be inspired by that. And it’s a way to get the pros involved in raising awareness for what we’re playing for. And that’s the main thing that we’re doing here, we’re Serving Up Meals.”

Indeed, Sadler said the tennis tournament is gaining popularity each year. And while it isn’t a huge fundraiser for the Council on Aging, it’s become an important way for the organization to gain exposure.

“It’s more of an awareness event,” said Sadler. “But we’ve increased (funds raised) each year. The first year we raised about $2,500, the second year we raised about $3,500 and this year we’re looking at getting about $7,000, so we’re starting to get up there.”

SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind said the recognition the event gets is good because it draws participants from outside the Albany area, which increases awareness.

“It’s an important event because it makes people recognize us as an agency,” she said. “We’re always glad for good publicity, and this brings out a different group of people than we normally see. They come from more than just Albany. We’re really proud of this.”

While Serving Up Meals is good for the Council on Aging and the Meals on Wheels program, it also helps raise awareness for tennis in the Albany area.

The Albany Tennis Association helps put on the event, and on Friday night several members of the organization hosted tennis clinics for children. Yvette Armstong, the president of the Albany Tennis Association, said the clinics drew close to 50 kids of all ages.

“Our goal is to promote tennis in the Albany area,” Armstrong said Saturday. “Last night, the Albany Tennis Association came out and put on a clinic, and it was a lot of fun.”

The fun continued on Saturday when several participants battled it out for small prizes and bragging rights during the club-level competitions.

“Right now, I play in leagues in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and I do this kind of stuff for fun,” said Blue Whitaker, who travelled from Tallahassee to take part in the tourney. “It’s very tight, and they do a good job.”

David Buerkle, the director of tennis at Doublegate, agreed, saying that not only was the event a lot of fun, it helped local tennis gain exposure while allowing the club to help a worthy cause.

“It’s a great cause, so we want to do our part for the community and run a great event and welcome everybody so they can enjoy a great weekend of tennis,” said Buerkle.

Although Sadler and others from the organization and from the Albany Tennis Association gave a considerable amount of their time to the event, Sadler said the event’s many sponsors from the community were also very important.

Sponsors for this year’s Serving Up Meals include Longleaf Dental; U Save It; Stewbo’s Restaurant Group; ASP—America’s Swimming Pool Co.; Brooks Furniture; Dental Partners of Southwest Georgia; Flint Community Bank; FLINT Equipment; JLB Family Properties; Kelley, Lovett and Blakey; Merril Lynch/Michael Cohen; Porterfield United Methodist Church; Sadler Retirement; Albany Area Hand Therapy; Albany Landscape Co.; J.R. James Brokerage; Jon Moore; Margeson, Flynn & Associates; Dr. and Mrs. Frank Middleton; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Peeler; Pete Donaldson; Southwest Georgia Periodontics; Watson Spence; Wild Flour; Buffalo Rock, and Mars Chocolate North America.


Date Posted: April 15, 2016
Serving Up Meals Tournament 2016


Date Posted: April 05, 2016
Mayor honors SOWEGA Council on Aging, RSVP

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By:  Chauntel Powell

ALBANY — Volunteers serving with the Southwest Georgia (SOWEGA) Council on Aging and members of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) have been honored by Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard for their efforts in improving the quality of life for senior citizens in Southwest Georgia.

Hubbard said the efforts of the volunteers motivates her in her role as mayor of Albany and making an impact on Albany.

“I think they mean everything to the community,” Hubbard said. “The government can’t do everything so these are the people who give up their time, talent and resources to make our community better. Volunteers help to make our community better and stronger. They do the things that we as a government could not afford to do and they do it because they care, out of the goodness of their hearts. A lot of these people get personal satisfaction out of this.”

One such person is Don Gray, who started by helping with Meals on Wheels and various projects before joining the ramp building crew in 1999. He said being able to see first hand how his actions impact those that need has kept him going throughout the years.

“We do what we do for people who can’t help themselves, especially with the wheel chair ramps,” Gray said. “These people are very much in need,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to see them come out, with a smile on their face and say thank you to us for us doing the things we’re doing.”

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) was organized in Albany in 1972 and is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), United Way of Southwest Georgia, and local contributions. the local RSVP unit was the first RSVP program in Georgia to be funded.


Date Posted: January 29, 2016
Income Tax Preparation


Date Posted: December 09, 2015
Empty Bowls 2016

ALBANY HERALD — Jennifer Parks

Tickets are on sale for the Empty Bowls event that will take place at the Albany Civic Center on Jan. 20.

The upcoming Empty Bowls will mark the fifth year of the annual event. It is a joint outreach effort between the Albany Area Arts Council and the SOWEGA Council on Aging designed to fight hunger with the help with community artists.

“It is a participation between two organizations that are trying to bring awareness to (hunger),” said Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging. “We are trying to do that through the arts.”

For a $20 ticket, individuals will take home a handcrafted bowl — which is wrapped up promptly after selection — meant to serve as a reminder of empty bowls throughout the community. They will then will be able to partake in a soup lunch from one of many Albany area vendors.

The event is set for 11 a.m.- 1 p.m., and will be on the center’s arena floor — giving all the participants more room to mingle as the growth of Empty Bowls has begun to cramp everyone tighter together.

“There will be a lot more room for food vendors, and tables to display bowls,” said Sadler.

The bowls are made by potters in the region. Nicole Williams, executive director of the arts council, said most of the artists volunteering their efforts include those in the region between Columbus and Valdosta. They often include Albany State University students and board members from the arts council.

“At the Clay Spot, they have this challenge where you make two bowls for $20, and one of them gets donated to Empty Bowls,” Williams said.

Some of the vendors have typically included the culinary program from Albany Technical College, as well as a group from Westover High School, Sadler said.

Williams and Sadler said proceeds will be split evenly between the Council on Aging and the arts council. Council on Aging will earmark its half for the Meals on Wheels program, and the arts council is planning to use its portion of the proceeds for artist receptions.

“One of the most important things to remember is that Empty Bowls is an international (grassroots movement),” Williams said. “It is nice to have the local community working together, and the money stays here. I think that is why we have the community engaging like we do.”

The Empty Bowls Project was originally created by Imagine/RENDER as a grassroots movement to end hunger. Since then, each participating community has held its own Empty Bowls event to further the cause in its own way.

“It’s (about) awareness, a good time for those who give to it,” Williams said.

To start, there were 400 tickets for the Albany event — more than half of which are accounted for.

For more information call the arts council at (229) 439-2787 or the Council on Aging (229) 432-1124. Tickets should be purchased at the Council on Aging, which is located at 335 W. Society Ave., by calling the organization or by visiting

The Civic Center is located at 100 W. Oglethorpe Blvd.



Date Posted: December 08, 2015
Dougherty County Rotary Club delivers gifts for Santa for Seniors 2015

ALBANY HERALD - Jennifer Parks

The Rotary Club of Dougherty County delivered gifts to SOWEGA Council on Aging clients on Tuesday as part of the annual “Santa for Seniors” program.

This was the fifth annual “Santa for Seniors” event in which the club raised money to purchase Christmas gifts to clients who may not normally receive a gift. Club members arrived at the Council on Aging’s facility on West Society Avenue at around 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday to have a lunch at the center before gathering gifts and making deliveries.

“We take for granted that not everyone gets a (Christmas) gift,” said Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging. “They (the Rotary Club) came to us to see if there was a need.”

More than 150 throws and cookie boxes were delivered to housebound Meals on Wheels clients in Dougherty County this year with the $1,500 raised by Rotarians through the club’s “Happy Bucks” collection done at its weekly meetings. Rotarians gave the Council on Aging the money, and the Council on Aging purchased the gifts.

“You should see the faces of these seniors,” said Bil Sadler, the club’s president. “Many don’t have family around. It means a lot to them, so it means a lot to us.”

The project is part of the Dougherty County Rotary Club objective, which is “to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise” and to foster four points supporting the club’s motto “Service above Self:”

— The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;

— High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;

— The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business and community life;

— The advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional people united in the ideal of service.

When “Santa for Seniors” was getting started, club members were raising $700 for the cause. In the last two years, more than twice that amount has been raised without extra fundraising, the club president said.

He added it goes along well with the club’s district governor’s goal of serving seniors.

“It’s fun playing Santa Claus,” Bil Sadler said.


Date Posted: November 20, 2015
Council on Aging Looks Back Over Year



A guest appearance by Georgia Department of Human Services Commissioner Robyn Crittenden and an overview of activities at the SOWEGA Council on Aging highlighted the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s annual meeting on Thursday.

Crittenden, in her remarks at the meeting Thursday at the Kay Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center, said a focus will be to ensure older adults have services that enable them to maintain a strong quality life and sense of dignity.

Specifically, she said, a movement will be put in motion to better connect the elderly in need to food stamps.

“In the coming months, you will see the agencies focus on senior hunger in our state,” she said.

Kay Hind, executive director for the SOWEGA Council on Aging, noted the events and programs from the past year, which included Tai Chi sessions, establishment of a community garden, rental of the senior center facility for outside events, the thriving of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the donation of air-conditioning units by the Dougherty County Rotary Club, annual fundraisers, and a visit from U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden.

The volunteer program has included the building of ramps on the homes of those who would otherwise be homebound, and the production of teddy bears for patients at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Empty Bowls and the annual comedy night have been among the fundraisers.

The next Empty Bowls event is set for Jan. 20 at the Albany Civic Center. There will be 400 tickets for 400 bowls available as part of a project designed to fight hunger and create awareness about it. It is a joint outreach of the Albany Area Arts Council and the Council on Aging.

At the meeting, there also was a slate of board members who were approved. They were Kim Lee, Melody Ellis, Tangela Campbell, Gayle Chapman, Lou Lee, Ragan Fretwell, Reba Stewart, William Collins, Chris Quick, Ervin Brock, Suzanne Perrine and James Carswell.

Sherman Willis, who has also served on the board, was presented the Martha Eaves Advocating for Positive Change Award for his role in bringing in Council on Aging Developmental Director Izzie Sadler and for advocating for the Senior Life Enrichment Center that opened in 2013.

The annual report showed that there is an elderly population in Southwest Georgia of 67,369. Of those, 25 percent reside in Dougherty County. The Council of Aging served 833 people residing in 14 Southwest Georgia counties in Fiscal Year 2015, the report showed.

Over the year, there were 107,029 congregate meals served. The Council on Aging has offered out-of-town trips, a farmer’s market, exercise classes, educational luncheons, art classes and other activities. In FY 2014, there were 21,763 hours of adult day care services provided, and in FY 2015, 769 people in Southwest Georgia were served with nursing home alternatives through the Community Care Service Program at a cost of $13.65 million, the annual report said.

The service area for elder abuse prevention includes 3,619 beds. One hundred and fourteen clients were served over the last year in homemaker services and 63 were served through the family caregiver program. There also were Medicare savings of $1.83 million generated for clients through Georgia Cares, the report said.


Date Posted: October 20, 2015
GeorgiaCares Program Overview - What IS GeorgiaCares?

Not sure what the GeorgiaCares program can do for you?  Check out these videos or call 1-866-552-4464 (Option 4)

GeorgiaCares program Overview

GeorgiaCares Program Video 1

GeorgiaCares Program Video 2


Date Posted: October 15, 2015
Legislators conduct Kinship Care study meeting at SOWEGA Council on Aging




Georgia lawmakers met with area officials Tuesday at the SOWEGA Council on Aging as part of a three-city study committee aimed at improving the lot of grandparents or other family members who are raising young children.

Heading up the group is state Rep. Stacey Y. Abrams, D-Atlanta, who earlier this year proposed HR 474, a bill to fund examination of a growing situation in which family members — often grandparents — care for children who are not their own, though with little state support.

In fact, according to Abrams, while Georgia has one of the largest and fastest-rising populations of such family situations — nearly 100,000 at last count — for reasons including death of the parents, military deployment or incarceration, the caregivers often receive less than half the funding that official foster parents get.

“The questions are, how do you help these families navigate the system and how do you help them afford to take care of the children?” Abrams said. “In the foster care program, you receive resources for food, clothing, transportation and respite care. People come and take care of you. The informal (family) system offers much less, or even nothing”

While funding is a major issue, Abrams said “legalities” can often pose difficulties for the well-meaning caregivers. For example, some of the children are drug-addicted at birth and may continue to have special needs. But schools and medical providers may not recognize the family members’ authority.

“There’s a process for special-needs children,” Abrams said, “But if you’re not the parent of record, if you don’t have legal custody, schools may or may not work with you. Caregivers may not even be able to sign doctors’ forms.”

Officials say the two main types of “kinship care” include private or informal care under an arrangement where extended family members raise the children without the involvement of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), and “public” kinship care, where families care for children involved with the child welfare system.

In either case, Abrams says, research has shown that children growing up in the generally more stable and nurturing homes provided by family members are less likely to experience behavioral problems, psychiatric disorders and school disruptions.

“More formality is not the goal we’re looking for,” Abrams said. “In creating a study group, we’re looking at whether we can create parity (with the foster system) and increase access to support. More than that, we want to make certain that as a state we’re doing what’s best for children because we want them to be with people who love them. That may not be the same as placing them in a foster care system.”

According to Abrams, the objective of the group’s community meetings is to hear comments from those involved with family members raising children not their own, and especially the elderly caregivers themselves, though such comments were absent from Tuesday’s meeting. Using information gathered, the group hopes to improve the situation for caregivers, Abrams said.

In addition to Abrams, Georgia lawmakers present at the meeting included state Reps. Tom Kirby, R-Loganville; Dexter Sharper, D-Valdosta, and Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson.

Other members of the study committee include state Reps. Karen Bennett, D-Stone Mountain; John Deffenbaugh, R-Lookout Mountain, and Sam Teasley, R-Marietta.

“This is a program that’s needed in Albany,” said Juanita Nixon, executive director of Cutliff Grove Family Resource Center, who spoke at the meeting. “We have so many grandparents here who need help, not only in dollars but in basic support from one day to the next.

“If we could all partner together and try to get some funds to get this program going, I think we’ll see better communication in schools and our community. Children can’t learn as well because they don’t have the tools they need.”

Before the Albany session, the study committee conducted meetings in Atlanta and Dalton, Abrams said. The representatives will later conduct a meeting in Savannah and one more in Atlanta before considering solutions to the issues.


Date Posted: September 14, 2015
SOWEGA Council on Aging RSVP program makes Teddy Bears



 Just before a small group Albany firefighters sat down on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to have lunch with the community’s seniors, they received a donation from a group whose members hope their contribution will be of significant benefit to the families the public safety personnel serve.

On Friday, representatives from both the Albany Fire Department and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital were at the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center to be presented with more than 100 handmade teddy bears. The donors say they hope the toys will be used to provide comfort to children, including those in families affected by fires.

For the past 20 years, the “Teddy Bear Group,” comprising about 20 of the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program — or RSVP — volunteers, has been sewing 100 bears per week to donate to Phoebe. Funds for the supplies are provided by the hospital’s Volunteer Services department, and the teddy bears are given to children who are admitted into Phoebe.

This time, the bears were split into two shipments, one to the AFD and one to Phoebe.

“When one of our loved ones receives a bear, it just makes them feel better,” said Shella Dockery, a member of the teddy bear group.

Kay Hind, executive director of the Council on Aging, said there were 113 bears Friday.

“We thank you for everything you do,” Hind said to the firefighters who attended.

At least a few of the bears donated on Friday were made of fabric with fire trucks imprinted on it.

Suzanne Perrine, director of volunteer services at Phoebe, said the teddy bears made by the group usually benefit patients in several departments of the hospital.

RSVP is based primarily out of the council. The Council on Aging was established in 1966 and works to coordinate a system of services meant to promote the well-being and independence of older and disabled citizens, and helping them achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives within its 14-county service area.


Date Posted: August 20, 2015
Thanks to a District Grant and Matching Funds, the Rotary Club of Dougherty County Delivered Air Conditioning Units to Seniors in Need



The Dougherty County Rotary Club was at the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center Thursday to load air conditioning units and deliver them to seniors in need.

The club was able to purchase 28 window air conditioning units through its Rotary District Grant, worth about $4,000, that 15 club members were able to deliver on their lunch breaks.

The Council on Aging was prompted to establish a program to offer air conditioning units, not just because some seniors in the community are struggling financially, but also because these individuals are the most frail and therefore most prone to heat-related illness or death when an air conditioner is not available in a home during the summer months.

“At the Council on Aging, we carefully screen individuals to ensure they are in need of a unit,” said Izzie Sadler, development director with the council.

This screening process typically involves a phone interview followed by a visit to the individual’s house to fully assess the need, including confirmation that there is no air conditioning currently in the home. The recipient is then counseled on the impact the unit will have on his or her utility bills.

If a person is chosen to receive the unit, the recipient is then responsible for making arrangements to have it installed.

“The priority is to those in most need,” Sadler said.

The units were bought from Lowe’s and Home Depot at a discount, allowing more seniors to receive units through the club’s grant.

We do (a donation of units) every year, but it is based on funding … when someone brings us a new unit or writes a check,” said Sadler.

This is the biggest delivery of air conditioners done to date, officials at SOWEGA said.

“This helps seniors live more comfortably … I don’t think any of us want to live in a hot, steamy house,” Sadler said.Bil Sadler, president of the Dougherty Rotary Club, said the Rotary theme this year is to help seniors, prompting the club to contact the Council on Aging regarding a possible use of the grant from its district — which was when they discovered how much of a need existed.

After the club president came back from a delivery, he said the man receiving the unit he was dropping off welcomed it with a smile on his face.

“There was a fan, but it was blowing hot air,” he said. “It (the unit) will make a big difference (for him).”

The Rotarians are involved in other projects to help senior citizens in the area, including Santa for Seniors and a weekly meal delivery via Meals on Wheels.


Date Posted: July 29, 2015
The 10th Annual Comedy Night a success for Meals on Wheels



 — While helping the homebound senior citizens of Southwest Georgia with a meal delivery, the annual SOWEGA Council on Aging Comedy Night set for next month is expected to be a family friendly affair with plenty of laughs.

The headline attraction will be Mark Lowry, best known as a Christian comedian who is a baritone singer with the Gaither Vocal Band and comedic sidekick to Bill Gaither. He’s a favorite on the Gaither Homecoming series concert tours and video series. He is an author and songwriter, whose best known lyrics are for the song “Mary Did You Know?”

The 10th annual event, set for 7 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the Albany Municipal Auditorium at 200 N. Jackson St., will benefit the Meals on Wheels program coordinated through the Council on Aging.

“This is a fundraiser for us for our Meals on Wheels program,” said Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind. “We just got cut in that area under the Older Americans Act.

“I like Comedy Night, and I think it is good for the community to have a real good laugh.”

Lowry will be accompanied by pianist Stan Whitmire.

The combination of comedy and music “is different from what we have done in the past,” said Izzie Sadler, developmental director with SOWEGA.

Lowry, in a recent phone interview with The Albany Herald, said that — especially since he is now in his late 50s — the senior citizen age group is one he likes most to entertain, and one to which is he beginning to relate.

“I’m aging, and everyone is,” he said. “Baby boomers are now hitting senior citizen age.”

Like many other comedians, Lowry takes his material from his own life, which means that “the joke’s always been on me.”

The majority of his audiences have been either been the young or senior citizens. Every audience is a little bit different, so in many cases, an act is structured based on what that particular audience might relate to.

“When I see them, I may be able to sense” the direction for the Albany show, Lowry said.

Whitmire usually provides music to help open up the show before Lowry comes out, the comedian said.

“If they (audience members) have a pulse, you can communicate with them,” Lowry said. “As long as they speak English, I can communicate with them. It’s a night for everybody … I think everyone will enjoy it.”

The fundraiser, the most significant of the year for the council, has gained momentum through increased community support. This has allowed coordinators to book someone who is more well known while also making sure there is enough in the proceeds to make the effort worthwhile.

The goal this year is to raise $30,000-$40,000 for the 14-county area that SOWEGA serves so the Meals on Wheels program can continue to assist 960 people in getting the 187,000 meals delivered to them annually that they otherwise might miss.

“We serve a 14-county area and every county has a Meals on Wheels,” Hind said. “It is not limited to Albany. This will benefit all of those in the service area who get it.”

Sponsors, which have come through with the help of the council’s board, have been key, since the Comedy Night ticket prices alone are not enough to make the event successful.

“Every year, we have made a little more money and promoted it more,” said Hind.

While the money helps, the event has also built more awareness about what the Council on Aging does — in turn expanding its volunteer base.

“It builds a relationship between us and the community,” Sadler said.

This year, there is the advantage of having a comedian who already has a following in Southwest Georgia.

“Everybody has said he is fantastic,” Sadler said.

Continuing Meals on Wheels, SOWEGA officials say, allows for more than a meal delivery. It also provides a daily welfare check.

“That is equally important,” Hind said.

The reserved seats on the ground level of the auditorium have already sold out, but general admission seating in the balcony remains open at $20 each. Dr. Doug Lorber with Albany Audiology and Hearing Aid Center will be serving as the master of ceremonies for the event.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit or call (229) 435-6789. Individuals can also stop by the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave.


Date Posted: July 27, 2015
Krysta Harden, a Camilla native, tours SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center



-- Some Albany area seniors entertained a special guest Monday when U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden visited the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Senior Life Enrichment Center to see what the organization is doing to help the plight of those who are struggling with the effects of poverty.

Click here for photo gallery

Harden’s visit is part of the White House Rural Council’s “Rural Impact” effort, which is a coordinated campaign across federal agencies to improve the quality of life and upward mobility of children and families in rural communities.

“It’s really a focus of this administration and the White House to look at poverty, poverty for our kids in rural areas, poverty for our adults in rural areas, so I’m just learning from some of the folks here,” said Harden. “Unfortunately Georgia is fourth in the country for citizens with food insecurity and fifth for our kids. And Dougherty County in particular is second, I believe in Georgia, with citizens with food insecurity.”

Georgia has a 19 percent poverty rate, with 27 percent of Georgia children living in poverty. In Dougherty County, nearly one in three residents live in poverty.

USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden takes of sniff of some peppers being grown in the community garden at Albany's SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

As someone who grew up in a farming family in Southwest Georgia, Harden spoke passionately about her concerns about food insecurity for people surrounded by food.

“What’s troubling to me as the daughter of a farmer who grew up right down the road in Mitchell County, I grew up with an abundance of food, I see it growing everywhere,” she said. “I know there’s the best famers in the country, maybe the world, right down here. Then you think about our neighbors, our friends, just right around the corner who might not know where their food is coming from or how they’re going to feed their kids and family.”

With seniors being one of the demographics that struggles with having access to food, Harden made it a point to visit the Senior Life Enrichment Center which administers the council on aging’s Meals on Wheels (MOW) program in Albany.

According to information provided by Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging, MOW provides roughly 200 meals a day in Albany alone, while the council’s congregate program, where seniors who are able to physically come to the center to eat, provides an additional 60-100 meals daily.

Overall the SOWEGA Council on Aging serves approximately 960 people in 14 counties and provides an average of 187,000 meals to seniors annually through its nutrition program.

Krysta Harden, deputy secretary of the USDA, chats with the SOWEGA Council on Aging's Rosa Huggins about the food she is preparing for guests at the council's Senior Life Enrichment Center. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

“Unfortunately (food insecurity) really is (a big issue) with a lot of seniors,” said Harden. “And they’re very prideful people and they don’t want to ask for help.”

Harden added that many seniors struggle daily trying to decide whether to spend money on bills, medicine or food, which makes programs like those offered by the Council on Aging important.

Harden said she is impressed with the council’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which features seniors volunteering their time to provide services to other seniors. RSVP volunteers give of their time in a variety of different ways including taking meals on wheels, and spending time with seniors at the senior life center. One particular group helps build access ramps for seniors at their homes.

“There’s just so many different ways that you can give back to your community,” said Harden. “We have some seniors here who say, ‘I have food, I’m in good health, I have what I need. I want to give back to my neighbors and friends who don’t.’ And it really is what’s best about Southwest Georgia and Albany.”

Even with so many volunteers willing to work to make a difference, Harden said more has to be done to make sure citizens throughout Southwest Georgia and the entire country, have enough to eat.

“This is not something that the federal government’s going to solve or the state government or even the local government,” said Harden. “It’s going to take us all. Its starts with awareness, it starts with understanding the issues and then thinking about solutions. How do we make sure that here in the land of plenty, and certainly in an area that grows a lot of food for folks in our area and all over the country, how are we going to make sure that everyone down here has access to that?”


Date Posted: July 13, 2015
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging awarded Hind with the Excellence in Leadership Award 2015



-- A woman who has spent more than four decades trying improve upon the services offered to senior citizens in Southwest Georgia has been honored on a national level.

SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind received an “Excellence in Leadership” award this past week at a National Association of Area Agencies on Aging conference in Philadelphia.

“There were over 900 people at this conference,” said Hind. “I think this is the first time they have given out this particular award. “I’ll admit, I was excited.”

It is a conference Hind usually attends every year. She learned she would be receiving the award when she got a call from the coordinators of the conference after they noticed she had not yet registered.

“I’m very pleased with it,” Hind said.

In her 46 years working on behalf of senior citizens, Hind said she served on the national board as an alternate for four years and as a full board member the following four years.

Her longevity of service aside, including advocacy at the Georgia state level, Hind said her selection may have been influenced by her role in establishing the 45,000-square-foot Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center near downtown Albany.

The center, which took two decades and roughly $10 million to come to fruition, is more advanced than most aging agencies have access to, she said.“The quality of the programs we have here really stand out in the field,” she said.

Such recognition, she added, also helps when it becomes necessary to apply for the grants needed to keep services going.

“It is one more thing to give us credibility when applying for grants,” Hind said. “We will continue to do that.”

Among her other recent accolades have included a lifetime achievement award she received from the Georgia Aging Network in 2013.


Date Posted: June 18, 2015
Please check on your elderly friends, family and neighbors during extreme heat

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The SOWEGA Council on aging has several different groups that assist seniors. 

WALB followed a Homemaker who does checks on the elderly and helps with chores.

On a hot day like today they make sure that their houses are cool enough.

"We try to make a point when our staff and volunteers go out to provide services to our clients on a daily basses," Izzie Sadler said. 

"When I leave and the weather is like it is now I would basically tell them to stay hydrated and stay in the cool if they can," Marry Williams said. 

If you live next to an elderly person who lives on their own, the council advises people to check in on them. 

They also take donations for Air Conditioners and fans, but they do have some requirements.

To find how to donate give them a call at 229 432 1124. 


Date Posted: June 03, 2015
Shades of Gold Senior Art Show 2015 June 4th at Albany Museum of Art

ALBANY — Brad McEwen


Albany area art lovers will get a special treat this week when the SOWEGA Council on Aging presents its annual “Shades of Gold” art exhibit at the Albany Museum of Art.

The exhibit, which kicks of Thursday with a reception from noon to 2 p.m., will feature 44 oil and acrylic pieces created by 18 different artists who created the works during an art class the council on aging has hosted for 22 years.

According to Izzie Sadler, development director for the council on aging, the art class, which has been taught voluntarily by Carole Gum, is one of the council’s most popular classes.

“It’s a program that’s had a lot of longevity because people really enjoy it,” said Sadler. “It allows seniors to get out, socialize and be creative, which I think is good for everybody. We do the show to present the participants’ art works because they work so hard on them.”

Sadler said the art classes are taught every Monday at the council on aging’s new Senior Life Enrichment Center every Monday at 1 p.m. The class is free and available to men and women over 60, but participants must provide their own materials. Sadler said anyone wanting to join the class needs to call the center at (229) 435-6789.

Thursday reception kicking off “Shades of Gold” is also open to the public and the display, which is housed in the museum’s Harry and Jane Willson Auditorium, will run through the end of June, which Sadler is thankful for.

“We’re very appreciative of the museum,” said Sadler. “They do a lot of work to make this happen.”

David Griffin, director of collections and exhibitions for the museum, said he was pleased the museum was able to host the art exhibit because it provided a chance to showcase some of the great art being made by non-professionals in the community.

“It’s important for us to keep all artists in the area involved in what we’re doing,” said Griffin. “This is a place where artists and art lovers can come and feel comfortable. As an arts organization we like to be a part of the arts in the entire community and let those artists know we appreciate them.”

The Albany Museum of Art is located at 311 Meadowlark Drive and is open free of charge Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Date Posted: June 03, 2015
SOWEGA Council on Aging has a waiting list of people need ramp build



Date Posted: May 26, 2015
SOWEGA Council on Aging Program Update - Albany News Herald Article



— The most visible part of the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s presence in Albany is the 45,000-square-foot Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center that took years to become a reality. The core of the mission is what goes on inside the walls to give senior citizens a reason to get out of bed in the morning and continue moving.

On any given day, there is something going on from which senior citizens — and even younger folks — could benefit from. Powerful Tools for Caregivers, a six-week course meant to increase confidence for caregivers, is among those along with the monthly caregiver support group meetings. Matter of Balance, meant to help those most vulnerable to better prevent falls, is a four-week class held twice a week.

There’s also an art class that meets on Mondays, a line dancing class that meets twice a week, a chair fitness class meeting twice weekly, a Friday drumming class, an eight-week computer class that meets twice a week and the AARP Driver Safety Program that has sessions coming up in June and September.

Currently, the first part of a Tai Chi course for arthritis is taking place through June 25. There is a fitness room built for senior’s needs, and there are places for people to just come to eat a meal or socialize by playing cards.

SOWEGA also maintains evidence-based programs, such as those relating to chronic disease management.

“(Evidence-based programs) are classes held according to the standards given, and we can expect results from them,” said SOWEGA Executive Director Kay Hind. “We have staff willing to go out in the community and speak to groups and inform them of what we have to offer. Most (of the classes and programs) are new, because now we have the space to do it and volunteers to help carry them out.”

As the funds allow, the council is expanding on those opportunities.

“Older Americans Month is May, and the theme is ‘Get Into the Act’,” said Hind. “It’s a national (campaign) promoting being active and being involved. We believe in that all the time around here.

“We are fortunate to have a building that will accommodate programs, more entertainment and more education … We continue to add new programs and activities as we get requests. We encourage older people to suggest programs we may not have thought of. We are not limited in what we can do.”

Part of gaining input from the community was the creation of the council’s advisory board, which consists primarily of people in its services, or are eligible to receive them, giving advice to SOWEGA’s leadership.

Among those on that board is Marilyn Malphus McKinney. About to turn 91, she has been active with the Council on Aging since she got involved with its tax program in 1990 — which was followed by a career as an accounting instructor at what is now Darton State College.

After about a decade, eyesight problems forced her to step down from the program.

“It is a wonderful program. It helps so many folks each year,” she said. “The RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), transportation, everything we do is for seniors.”

McKinney was involved in recruiting someone to take her place when she got connected with the advisory board.

“I come to hear about the things being done, and I want to be a part of it,” she said. “It takes a lot of people involved to make it work … There are a lot of good things happening. I’m so proud of the senior center. It is the most wonderful thing that could have happened. I’m so proud of it.”

The center’s very existence reflects a strong community interest, she said, toward giving back to a population who has already given a lot of themselves.

“They have given a lot to us, so it is important for us to see they have an easy time,” McKinney said. “(The building) is phenomenal.”

It’s particularly important for those at risk of fading away slowly into the background who need to stay visible and active.

“So many seniors become isolated and don’t have interaction,” McKinney said. “With Meals on Wheels, the visit is just as important as the food. They can come here and have plenty of people to talk to.

“I think the future is bright (for the Council on Aging). I can’t think of a reason why we can’t (go farther).”

On June 4, the 22nd annual Shades of Gold Senior Art Show will be taking place at the Albany Museum of Art from noon-2 p.m. to give some of the area’s seniors a chance to showcase their work.

That is among a few programs allowing the council to be visible outside the West Society Avenue center.

“That is one of our most popular activities,” Hind said.

After that, the council’s 10th annual Comedy Night, to feature Mark Lowry and Stan Whitmire, will be taking place at 7 p.m. on Aug. 6 at the Albany Municipal Auditorium to raise funds for the Meals on Wheels program.

“That is our major fundraiser each year,” Hind said.

There are volunteer opportunities, including the Knights of Columbus Sewing Group, Meals on Wheels and the RSVP ramp crew. The Albany Golden K Kiwanis Club recently volunteered their time by setting up a veterans memorial outside the center consisting of a red maple tree and a granite marker, as did the Albany Woman’s Club by helping to set up a flower bed on the grounds.

In addition, some of the clients have been working on a community garden through the council’s wellness programs and grants.

“We raised the beds and planted vegetables,” Hind. “Participants are at the center where they serve lunch, they pull weeds and share vegetables. It is scientifically done and organic. It is exciting to see the garden grow.”

Outside of Albany, there are centers in Arlington, Bainbridge, Blakely, Cairo, Colquitt, Dawson, Donalsonville, Leesburg, Moultrie, Newton, Pelham, Sylvester and Thomasville.

“We have senior centers in every county (served by SOWEGA),” Hind said. “They carry out some of the programs at their facilities, and are otherwise invited to come here (to the Albany center).”

Among the core programs have included Meals on Wheels, as well as homemaker services and in-home care services for those eligible for nursing home care.

Much of what is offered at the center is done at little to no cost to the clients. The help of private donations, state and federal funding, grants and rental fees from outside entities wanting to utilize parts of the building — such as for statewide conferences — have allowed the center to be able to do what it does while remaining financially stable.

“We are doing well,” Hind said. “We are having more people come in from the community that we have not had the opportunity to serve before … People in the community recognize this as a resource. We rent it to meet expenses.

“We start a new (fiscal) year on July 1, and have already established our budget. We have spent carefully, but are able to continue with grants we are able to get, and with federal and state funding, we are able to offer most of the programs at the same level (as we have been).

“We’ve had to make some cuts due to funding, but we try to keep that to a minimum.”

The council’s newsletter goes out every other month to keep the community informed of its activities at the center, which was completed in late 2013 following a $10 million investment in time and resources — and has a strong following even outside Southwest Georgia.

“I get nothing but compliments, not only here but statewide,” Hind said. “We’ve received a lot of recognition, and (are) having more people come from other areas.

“So far, everyone I’ve talked to has been positive about it. It’s really been an asset … People come (from out of town) and stay in hotels (and spend money in the community). It’s not just us that benefits.”

The 2014 annual report for the council included statistics from the Georgia Division of Aging Services showing there are 67,369 elderly people living in Southwest Georgia, with 16,255 being from Dougherty County. Through the senior life enrichment centers in the SOWEGA coverage area, there were 823 people and 123,547 congregate meals served in Fiscal Year 2014.

In Fiscal Year 2014, there were 20,335 day care hours and 5,000 in-home respite hours provided through the adult day care and in-home respite care programs. The Community Care Services program, an in-home nursing care alternative, provided a total of $9.9 million in services, with 812 people in Southwest Georgia being served through the program in FY 2014. More than 3,600 beds were served by the ombudsman program, and 6,497 were served through the Georgia Cares prescription program, the annual report said.

The RSVP program, consisting of about 500 volunteers giving more than 50,000 hours annually, built 80 ramps and averaged 100 teddy bears a week made to be distributed at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. There were 817 clients served by Meals on Wheels and 133 served through the homemaker services program. There were also 66 in the caregiver support group, the annual report said.

For more information on SOWEGA, call (229) 432-1124 or (800) 282-6612.


Date Posted: May 21, 2015
Falling: One of the biggest, most preventable, threats to our lives - Georgia Health News

- Georgia Health News (Click here to read article via

From flashlights to tai chi to rewards programs, health care providers are using various strategies to prevent falls by patients.

Falling is a dangerous — and very expensive — problem. Its direct medical costs are in the billions nationwide, more than $34 billion, according to recent reports. The total national cost of fall injuries is expected to soar to $59.6 billion by 2020, according to the National Council on Aging.

The Affordable Care Act imposes payment penalties on the 25 percent of hospitals whose rates of hospital-acquired conditions are the highest. Conditions caused by falls in hospitals are among those being measured, so there’s money at stake.

It’s well known that the risk of falling and being hurt increases with age. The CDC’s Injury Prevention and Control Center reports that every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in a hospital emergency department for injuries related to a fall. About 20 percent of the elderly who have a major fall are likely to die within a year, according to national studies.

But not all falls involve seniors. No one of any age or situation is immune.

Falls are even an occupational hazard for health care workers. Many have been injured due to slipping, tripping or sliding while on duty in health care facilities. This is especially true for nursing assistants and nurses, says a recent report from the CDC.

The lead author of that study, Dr. Ahmed Gomaa, says that “occupational injuries including slips, trips, and falls among health care workers are prevalent and serious — but more importantly they are preventable.”

National figures from 2013 on the 10 leading causes of nonfatal injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms show how prevalent falls are. In every age category but one, falls were the leading reason for the ER visits. And for the one exception, the 10-to-24 age group, falls came in second.


Keeping falls from happening


“A lot of work on fall prevention is being done in Georgia,” says Elizabeth Head, program coordinator for injury prevention at the Georgia Department of Public Health. “It’s very important that we let the public know what’s available to help our seniors.”

Head is speaking about programs at senior centers that may not receive the attention they deserve: Matter of Balance and Tai Chi for Health.

“Tai chi has been researched using randomized control trials,” Head says. “Studies have found tai chi can reduce falls by as much as 30 percent.”

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art with low-stress training techniques beneficial for physical fitness and mental focus. In the past several decades it has spread worldwide, and many programs, especially those geared to seniors, concentrate on exercise and health improvement rather than self-defense.

Both the tai chi and balance programs meet high levels of evidence in terms of being effective, Head says. “In fact, the Matter of Balance has shown a reduction in the fear of falling.”

Head says a major problem with falls is “as we age, no one thinks a fall can happen to them.” And the surprise is what happens when they do fall: fractures, hospital bills and an increased chance that they will fall a second or third time, according to hospital reports.

The Southwest Georgia Council on Aging (SOWEGA), which covers 14 counties, is in the process of testing a vigorous approach to prevention.

Although the SOWEGA studies were statistically small (21 patients in 2013 and 12 patients in 2014), both years showed reductions in falls with the use of tools like grab bars, flashlights, shower chairs and safety education.

“Flashlights have been a big hit,” says Babs Hall, SOWEGA program manager. Clients may not want to wake a spouse during the night, but need to get out of bed for one reason or another. A simple item like a handy flashlight can make a big difference, she says.


Innovative ideas


Since 2008, hospitals no longer receive payments for treating injuries caused by in-hospital falls, based on a 2007 final CMS rule. This serves as a strong incentive for health care facilities to focus on prevention.

Preventing falls “is a top priority throughout the Georgia hospital field,” says Kevin Bloye, a Georgia Hospital Association vice president.

Kathryn McGowan, GHA vice president of quality and patient safety, leads the charge on helping hospitals prevent patients from falling.

“The problem is multifaceted and super-challenging,” says McGowan. GHA looks at patient safety as well as worker safety, she says.

Georgia participates in a network agreement that engages hospitals throughout the state to improve patient safety and lower costs simultaneously. Network hospitals are encouraged to work together to make hospitals a safer place.

One North Georgia hospital, Northridge Medical Center in Commerce, has been especially successful with its prevention plans, says McGowan.

“Our plan was straightforward,” says Selina Baskins, a registered nurse at Northridge.

A fall-injury “prevention tree” serves as an incentive to the staff. The artificial tree is made of a wallpaper-type material and laminated, Baskins says. “It has the name of every nurse or nursing assistant on a removable leaf.”

If a patient falls, the nursing team member who had responsibility for that patient sees his or her leaf removed from the tree branch and placed on the ground. The hospital administration has a small monthly rewards plan for leaves that stay on the tree.

“It is simple, but works well,” says Baskins. “It certainly has made the staff more aware of falls.”

Even more important to the plan is a risk assessment for every Northridge patient. “If we note a patient is likely to need extra assistance with walking or getting out of bed, they receive an orange bracelet based on their medications, diagnosis, and balance abilities,” she says.


Nursing homes

“Patients in a nursing home are there for skilled nursing care or possibly rehabilitation,” states Linda Kluge, a program director for Alliant-GMCF, Georgia’s Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), a federal program dedicated to improving the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.

“Georgia has 360 nursing homes now,” says Kluge. Of those, 43 had no falls within a six-month period using specific falls prevention tools.

Among other initiatives, Georgia’s QIO addresses opportunities for health care improvement, such as looking at the overall quality of care for nursing home residents. Falling is only one issue, but it is critical.

Dr. Adrienne Mims, vice president and chief medical officer at Alliant-GMCF, says, “We measure mobility in many ways.”

Gait training and strength training play an important part. “Our geriatric management tool looks at how to address patients on a personal level,” Mims says. “Vision, medications and the environment are all items to be considered in the assessment.”


Judi Kanne, a registered nurse and freelance writer, combines her nursing and journalism backgrounds to write about public health. She lives in Atlanta.


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Date Posted: April 23, 2015
Golden K Kiwanis Honor Veterans

ALBANY — Albany residents now have another reminder of the sacrifices veterans have made for the country thanks to new memorial placed at the SOWEGA Council on Aging’s Kay Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center Wednesday.

Organized by the Albany Golden K Kiwanis Club, the new memorial, which consists of a freshly planted red maple tree and a granite marker, was planned to honor the men and women who have served in the United States armed forces.

“Every year the club does an April One Day activity,” said Golden K President Bill Graff. “This year I was president and I decided on April One Day we were going to do something and this sort of dawned on me to do something in remembrance of the people who served.”

The Kay Hinds Senior Center was the ideal place for the monument due to the fact that Golden K’s membership is made up of senior citizens, many of whom are supporters of the center as well as being members of the armed forces, like Graff, who is retired from the Air Force.

“Being a retired military person, this makes me proud,” said Graff. “It will be here forever.”

Graff said he is also proud of two area companies that lent a hand in making the memorial a reality, Matthews Funeral Home, which donated the granite marker, and Mark’s Greenhouse which donated the tree.

Coy Crowley, landscape manager with Mark’s Greenhouse, who was on hand for the dedication of the memorial, said when members of Golden K inquired about the cost of purchasing the tree, company officials decided it would be best to show their support and donate the tree.

“We just wanted to be a part of the community and give back,” said Crowley. “It’s a good cause for the citizens of Albany.”

Crowley added that the tree, which is a native variety in south Georgia, will have a long life span and will eventually grow to an average height of 60 feet. He also said that even though the tree is beautiful when it blooms in the spring, it will also be striking in the fall, when it’s leaves change to golden, orange, red and brown.

The natural beauty of the tree is also one of the reasons the SOWEGA Council on Aging is pleased to about having the memorial on the grounds of the senior center.

“We’re honored they contacted us to have a memorial on our site,” said SOWEGA Council on Aging ADRC Program Manager Babs Hall. “We requested a red maple because it will be a beautiful tree and we’ll be able to look out and see it all the time. In fact, it will be here long after we’re gone. It will serve as a wonderful reminder of those who have served.”

SOWEGA Council on Aging Assistant Director Debbie Blanton concurred with Hall’s assessment, saying that she’s proud of what the memorial means to the community and what it will mean in the future.

“It is a symbol of the service of the men and women that have served and are serving our country,” said Blanton. “It reminds us again that freedom is not free and that the sacrifices these men and women have made and are making is what makes this country great. We hope that the future generations will sit here as we put benches under this tree, that they’ll have a place to sit in the shade and look at this and reflect back on just what the military has meant to this country.”

The SOWEGA Council on Aging is a nonprofit organization working to serve the physical, mental and spiritual needs of older people in a 14 county area around southwest Georgia, through a wide range of services. For more information on the organization visit


Date Posted: April 16, 2015
Registration Deadline is April 27 - register online on EVENT tab


Date Posted: April 16, 2015
Gary Barg article, Today's Caregiver Magazine
Georgia on My Mind
- Gary Barg, Today's Caregiver Magazine

Earlier this month, I was in Albany, Georgia, for our first annual Albany Fearless Caregiver Conference co-hosted with the good folks at the Alzheimer’s Outreach Center and SOWEGA.  It was a remarkable event for me in so many ways.  It was my first time back in Albany since my college days (somewhere way-way back in the last century) when I was at FSU in northern Florida. 

I would on occasion want to take my car out for about 90 minutes out just to get out on the road and inevitably, the destination was always Albany, Georgia. (Or as an old-timer told me way back when, “Call it Albinny or leave”). My friends there now kind of chuckle and point at me derisively when I do that, so I don’t say that anymore. Much has changed there, but the friendliness and nice town feel remains the same to this date.

One of the great changes that have happened in Albany is the construction of the brand new Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center where we were lucky enough to hold the event with Kay H. Hind herself in attendance.  When I started running around the country talking about Today’s Caregiver magazine twenty years ago and trying as much as possible to be of service to family caregivers, one of the first people who took me under their wing was Kay H. Hind. I will never forget her kindness.

By the way, our keynote speaker was none other than Leisa Easom, PhD, RN, Executive Director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and Pope Eminent Scholar. What a day!

There were so many lessons that I learned from these two icons, but also from the family caregivers in attendance. The first I want to talk about is an extension of something I always say to caregivers. And it has to do with the doctor’s office visit.

We all have memories of waiting in the exam room with our loved one counting up the important questions we need to ask the physician, only to find those questions and the will to ask them evaporate into thin air as the doctor walks through the door.  But there are things we can do to get those questions answered.

To recap some of the tips I have learned from family caregivers about partnering with your loved ones doctors:

  • Try limiting the questions to one or two that can’t be answered elsewhere.
  • As the doctor walks in, mention you might need a few minutes to ask the questions. 
  • Bring a small digital tape recorder or use an audio recorder on your smart phone, so you don’t drive away wondering what it was that he or she just said. 

A caregiver in Albany raised her hand and, in fact, added a very important tip to the list when she said that she always has good luck by sending, in writing, her concerns and questions to the physician’s office in advance of the appointment date. 

Hmm, successfully partnering with her loved one's family physician staff to get her questions answered. There’s a whole lot of Fearless Caregiving going on in South Georgia! 

Now you know why I always have Georgia on My Mind.

Gary Barg


Date Posted: March 31, 2015
House Bill 46 moves the Division of Aging Services to the Department of Community Health

Georgia Legislature Overwhelmingly Supports Move of Aging Services

Advocates Fight for More Nimble Services for Older Georgians


Atlanta, GA – March 25, 2015 –House Bill 86, sponsored by Representative Tommy Benton (District 31-R, Jefferson), Transfers the Division of Aging Services (DAS) to the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency. “The Alzheimer’s Association applauds Chairman Tommy Benton and other members of the legislature for passing HB 86. This legislation is long over-due and will allow the re-positioned aging agency to fully focus on the issues that affect the aging population including those living with Alzheimer’s or living the 24/7 life of a caregiver” according to Ginny Helms, Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Chapter. The bill received overwhelming support in both chambers. HB 86 passed the House by a vote of 160-3 and passed the Senate by a vote of 45-1!


HB 86 moves the Division of Aging Services to the Department of Community Health to enable Aging Services to implement careful administration of the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementia; attract more federal and private sector grants and pilot programs; streamline funding for local businesses and community service providers; allow for budget management alignment with service delivery as well as provide innovative leadership for coordination of services with all other departments. Ms. Kay Hind, of Albany, Georgia and past Chair of the Georgia Council on Aging , was instrumental in advocating for the passage of HB 86.


The Georgia Council on Aging (GCOA) was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1977 to advise the governor, assembly, and state agencies on matters relating to Georgia’s seniors. Members of the 20-person council, drawn from every region of the state, also advocate for aging Georgians and their families and make recommendations to lawmakers and agencies on programs for seniors.


Date Posted: March 30, 2015
Thanks to the Albany Woman's Club and Mark's Greenhouses Nursery, the Kay H. Hind sign now includes a beautiful flower bed.

WALB - March 30

The SOWEGA Council on Aging received a beautiful donation from the Albany Woman's Club and Mark's Greenhouses Nursery.  When the buildingn was originally built, there wasn't enough funding for landscaping.  Organizers with the senior center were more than excited to receive the donation.  The hope is that the location receives more donations such as the new flowers.  "Any club that wants to do something, or individuals, will be glad to have them step forward." Kay Hind said.  The flowers are not only for the seniors citizens to enjoy, but anyone in the community.


Date Posted: March 04, 2015
Thanks Mom & Dad Fund Awards Grant for Fall Prevention Program


The Thanks Mom & Dad Fund (TMD) has awarded grants to seven organizations that serve older Georgians in metro Atlanta, Gainesville and Southwest Georgia. Services provided range from transportation to post-surgical rehabilitation to music therapy and more.

A $4,689 grant was awarded Wednesday to the SOWEGA Council on Aging for a fall prevention program for seniors.

“It’s tough to say how many people will benefit from this grant, but it is extremely helpful to us” SOWEGA Council Development Director Izzy Sadler said. “We perform individual assessments and provide the items they need to help prevent falls.”

The SOWEGA Council program conducts risk assessments and vision screenings to determine who requires assistance, provides durable in-home equipment — such as grab bars and shower chairs — to prevent falls, and offers safety education. In an early launch of the program from 2012-14, SOWEGA decreased the number of falls by 70 percent.

“Some people may need one item, others may need several,” Sadler said. “Our initial study showed we could serve 21 people, but I hope we’ll serve more than that. We’ll use the money until it runs out.”

The Thanks Mom & Dad Fund was created to honor parents, grandparents and mentors by supporting programs and services for the aging population. The fund is intended to improve the quality of life for older adults, to raise awareness about the unmet needs of seniors, and to dispel stereotypes about aging. The TMD Fund was created by the Atlanta Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging in cooperation with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

TMD officials say the organization’s goal is to make funding available to a broader number of aging programs, to strengthen its statewide presence, and, long term, to develop into a national foundation that supports services for the elderly.

Through ongoing fundraising and grant making, the fund seeks to engage the public in support for programs raising awareness and promoting vital services provided by agencies serving older adults. The fund’s current sponsors include AARP Georgia, ARC, Georgia Natural Gas, Georgia Power, General Building Maintenance, Neuroplastix, Inc., Gilbert & Sheppard, Nelson-Mullins, WSB-TV, and Canterbury Press.


Date Posted: February 05, 2015
Are you age 60+ and want to learn computer basics? We can help! Register now at 335 West Society Avenue in Albany.


Date Posted: February 02, 2015
FREE Health Screenings for Seniors age 60+


Date Posted: January 26, 2015
Free Tax Prep Program Sponsored by RSVP Program

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -For the 29th year in a row, the SOWEGA Council On Aging will offer free tax preparation help for seniors, but you need to sign up soon.

The IRS and the Retired Citizens Volunteer Program are sponsoring the program.

Last year they helped 600 people.

Specialists say this year's tax returns have changes that many people could have questions about.

"The law is changed. You may not have needed to come last year but will this year. We have a new ruled this year that you've got to prove you have insurance," said Tax Aid Coordinator Laura McKinney.

You can call 432-1124 to make an appointment.

Volunteers will prepare tax returns from February 2nd to April 14th on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 to 3.


Date Posted: January 21, 2015
Empty Bowls 2015 - a sold out event

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -Today is the 4th annual Empty Bowls, an event that supports two major organizations in Albany, the southwest Georgia Council on Aging and the Albany Area Arts Council.

"They do art and we help seniors and so on the outside it looks like we would have nothing in common," Development Director of SWEGA Council on Aging Izzie Sadler said. "But how we can come together and have such a great event that includes the whole community to me is a real sweet part."

The fundraiser allows local artists to show off their talents by handcrafting special pottery. Over 400 bowls will hit the tables this morning, part of the money collected will go toward keeping the art center thriving. And the rest will support meals on wheels, a popular program with the council on aging.

"We deliver over 187 thousand meals a year in southwest Georgia," Sadler said.

Organizers say the event has been a success every year.

"Well, I always love watching everyone coming in and their eyes when they see the handmade pottery," Sadler continued. "And they just look everything over real quick and try to see which piece they want and they have a hard time choosing because they're all so beautiful"

Each person who buys a bowl also gets treated to a special lunch. Those involved believe this helps tie the community together.

"The restaurants coming in and providing food year after year, the artists providing the pottery, these are hand made pieces of art that they make all year long thinking about this event," Sadler said.

It's an opportunity for neighbors to fill up on good food and good company.

Tickets for the event have been sold out, those who reserved a spot are asked to arrive at 11 A.M. at the Albany Civic Center.


Date Posted: January 15, 2015
Tai Chi for Arthritis, an Evidence Based Program


Date Posted: January 14, 2015
RSVP Volunteers build ramp for injured teenager


When ramp coordinator Jim Hill saw a work request over Christmas break, he couldn't wait to get back to work.

"We had planned on being off a little longer," Hill said. "But when I got the request for this particular ramp for Hannah. I called the team, and everybody jumped and said let's do it. Let's get it done."

The retired senior volunteer program or RSVP, sponsored by SOWEGA council on aging, usually builds ramps for seniors who use wheelchairs.

But Hill said helping children is particularly special.

"Everyone is special that's wheelchair bound, needs a ramp to get out of their house. But it's just something there. a little extra when it's a child.'

Croker's grandmother, Gail Thompson, has been back and forth between the hospital in Atlanta and Hannah's house, overseeing all the necessary renovations.

"We've had a group out here the weekend ripping carpet out, because she can't be around carpet and everything," Thompson said. "And now we're waiting on the people to come in and check, measure the floor and all for the linoleum tile and stuff. And, get the bathroom renovated so she can get in there. And it's just, all volunteers. team Hannah members and just, great support."

Every single piece of wood used to build this 56 foot ramp was donated. And the crew who built it was happy to help.

"I have seen it. When we've finished, and the child comes down the ramp. You'll see, how ever many pairs of eyes that are looking, with tears in them. It gets us, it really does."


Date Posted: January 12, 2015
Serving up Awareness

ALBANY — Continuing an event that raises awareness of hunger and of the Albany area’s artistic community, the fourth annual Empty Bowls event has established a momentum of its own well before the first bowl was set to be handed out.

The event is set for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Albany Civic Center at 100 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. A joint outreach effort by the Albany Area Arts Council and SOWEGA Council on Aging, it is meant to be a personalized way by artists on a community level to help the cause of hunger awareness with the assistance of various restaurants and culinary experts throughout the community.

“We partner with the art council, who makes the bowls,” said Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging. “We reach out to restaurants and they provide the soup.

“It is a drop in event, so you don’t have to come in right at 11 a.m. People buy a ticket, they come and choose a piece of pottery. We wrap it up and they go enjoy lunch.”

Along with the soup, bread and crackers are among the items served. The proceeds will be split between the two agencies, with SOWEGA using its half for Meals on Wheels, and the arts council using its half to sponsor special events such as opening receptions for artists exhibiting their work at the council.

“Area restaurants get recognized, and more recognition is brought to artists,” Sadler said.

The tickets are being sold at $20 each, with 400 bowls at the event. As of Tuesday, there were roughly 80 tickets remaining. The tickets typically sell out prior to the event, so officials do not anticipate selling tickets at the door.

Sadler said that Elements Coffee, Olde World Sandwich Shoppe, Cookie Shoppe, Wild Flour Cafe, Red Lobster, Hilton Garden Inn, Our Daily Bread, the culinary programs at Albany Technical College and Westover High School, Lemon Grass, Moe’s, Southern Elegance Catering, Merry Acres Event Center, Doublegate Country Club, Riverfront BBQ, BJ’s Country Buffet, Sonny’s BBQ, Henry’s Fine Edibles, Willis Country Home Bed and Breakfast and the Meals on Wheels kitchen will be the entities providing food at the event.

In addition, Harvey’s provided a gift card for the purchase of the extra materials needed for the event.

“It is a fundraiser, but it is mostly to raise awareness for both causes … and the community really rallying around both causes,” Sadler said.

Last year’s Empty Bowls was held at the Council on Aging’s new Senior Life Enrichment Center, but it was moved back to the civic center to provide more space. The primary limitation is the number of bowls that can be made available, but the event has grown over the years.

“We are just pleased to have the 400 and the recurring support of our potters,” Sadler said. “Their commitment is outstanding, and we are appreciative of that.”

Nicole Williams, in her first year as executive director at the arts council, is learning about the Empty Bowls event as she goes along — but has caught on to the passion involved for the artists.

“For us, it is about raising awareness on hunger but also promoting the artist,” Williams said. “It is a way of getting our work out into the community in a way the community recognizes. It has become an event the community feels ownership for.

“Our job is to serve the community and support arts and culture. We need the community to be engaged.”

The bulk of the artwork involved comes from a few of the council’s regular artists, as well as from Stacy Porter Brown at The Clay Spot.

“She (Brown) donates lots of bowls for the event herself, and she runs a special at The Clay Spot for anyone interested in painting a bowl to be donated for Empty Bowls,” Williams said.

The other potters include Kirby Gregory, Scott Marini, Cindy Gravois, Walter Hobbs, Diane Mead, Jim Mitchell, Ann Eason, Beth Wietz, Joann Carr, Mike White, David Griffin and assorted potters from Albany State University, Darton State College and Valdosta State University’s Ceramics Departments as well as David Britt Studios in Columbus.

Gregory, Marini and Gravois are board members for the arts council.

“It’s a lot to ask people to give away their artwork,” Williams said. “The potters really get into it, so we are glad to support the cause.”

There was a high volume of bowls coming from Americus for prior Empty Bowls events. While participation from that area has waned since it has established a similar event of its own, Williams said there is not a shortage of people willing to give — it’s just a matter of finding them.

“I hope the event goes well, but I know it will go well,” Williams said. “It has gained it’s own momentum … I’m so excited to see how it goes.”

Tickets are available at the Albany Area Arts Council, located at 215 N. Jackson St., and at the SOWEGA Kay Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. The arts council can be contacted at (229) 439-2787, and the Council on Aging is reachable at (229) 432-1124.


Date Posted: December 16, 2014
Learn special painting techniques with Stacie Brown, owner and artist at The Clay Spot

Register for this event on the EVENTS tab.


Date Posted: December 02, 2014
Dougherty County Rotary Club delivers gifts to seniors


The Rotary Club of Dougherty County is spreading Christmas cheer a little early.

On Tuesday, members of the club participated in the 5th annual Santa for Seniors.

This year the club raised $1500 to buy Christmas gifts to clients of the SOWEGA Council on Aging who may not normally get a gift.

Executive Director of SOWEGA Council on Aging says, "Just because you're older doesn't mean you don't want a gift to open on Christmas."



Date Posted: December 03, 2014
Call (229) 432-1124 to make your appointment for Dec 6 or 7.


Date Posted: December 02, 2014
SOWEGA Council on Aging builds raised bed garden for seniors

A new neighborhood garden is being built with the help of volunteers at SOWEGA Council on Aging's new facility.

Raised boxes are being put in to make it more convenient for seniors to grow vegetables, plants and flowers, along with an irrigation system.

The Council is hoping this will be a place for the community to come together and work together, in a place to build relationships while growing healthy food that the community and members of the senior center can enjoy.

SOWEGA says they are also hoping to partner with children's groups like the boys and girls club to increase socialization for the seniors and the kids while gardening together.

"Number one we want to get the seniors out and active but along with that activity they will be growing their own produce which will offer them more nutritious benefits," said Wellness Coordinator Erin Willingham.

They will start planting vegetables next week.


Date Posted: October 06, 2014
The SOWEGA Council on Aging is taking appointments for Medicare Open Enrollment (October 15 - December 7)


An Albany group is making sure folks who need to enroll for medicare are informed.

Open enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging has staff and trained volunteers to help those 65 and older enroll or change their plan.

Picking a plan can be overwhelming. "We help them select the very best plan for them. The one that covers their needs and has the most reseaonable costs. So it's a very valuable program," said Kay Hind, the Executive Director for the SOWEGA Council on Aging.

"We are very knowledgeable, we are trained. We are aware of all the updates so we can tell them those things personally," said Brian Ramey, the coordinator of Georgia Cares program for SOWEGA Council on Aging.

The help is free, but you should make a reservation. Call 229-432-1124, extension 183 to make an appointment.


Date Posted: November 24, 2014
SOWEGA Council on Aging presents 2014 Annual Report



ALBANY HERALD—  Jennifer Parks


The opening of the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center has opened up many opportunities for the SOWEGA Council on Aging to expand on the services they provide, officials with the agency said in their annual report. The Council on Aging plans, provides, develops and coordinates services for all people ages 60 and over in a 14county area of Southwest Georgia. Division of Aging Services has the elderly population of the region at 67,369, with nearly 25 percent of that population living in Dougherty County.

The Senior Life Enrichment Center, which opened its doors on West Society Avenue in January, is a 45,000 squarefoot facility. Serving as the senior center for Dougherty County to its 16,527 elderly, and the community as a whole, the center provides a fitness room, craft rooms, a computer lab, a ballroom set to accommodate 250 people, fellowship rooms, meeting rooms, a kitchen and catering area, among other things. The larger space, over the last several months, has allowed for expansion in all the programs SOWEGA offers, whether they be nutrition, wellness or educationrelated.

“It has been a big year with the building (and we have been able to) serve so many people since being in the building,” said Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council on Aging. Officials say the building has allowed for expansion in services not just in space, but also in increased funding for programs even with budget cuts. “We rent out the facility (for weekend events), and we use the income to put in the programs,” Sadler said.

Figures available from the agency’s most recent annual report shows that the Adult Day Care program, a respite care program for those whose family members suffer from some form of dementia, provided 20,335 service hours in Fiscal Year 2014 — while there was 5,000 hours put into inhome respite care. At the same time, 812 Southwest Georgians were served through the Community Care Services Program, which is provided for Medicaideligible individuals as an alternative to nursing home placement. As part of the elder abuse prevention efforts during the year, there were 178 routine visits to nursing homes and 416 routine visits to personal care homes. The Senior Community Service Employment Program provided 1,275 service hours to the elderly, while the Elderly Legal Services Program managed 161 cases. More than 800 clients were served through Meals on Wheels, and 133 were served through Homemaker Services, the report said.

Jay Montgomery, Deborah Clemmons and Donna Gray have been added as members of the agency’s board. The officers from the previous year are maintaining their positions.


Date Posted: November 17, 2014
Statistics show number of senior citizens in work force is increasing

ALBANY HERALD - Carlton Fletcher

— According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the graying of the American work force that really kicked in at the turn of the century is going to continue unabated well into the future.

A recent report by the bureau projects that by the year 2022, 31.9 percent of Americans ages 65-74 will still be working. That’s up from 26.8 percent in 2012.

Further, a report by the Georgia Department of Labor projects that by 2016, fully one-third of the country’s work force will be 50 or older.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Kay Hind, the executive director of the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging, said after hearing the statistics. “I’ve always found senior workers to be dependable, with a good work ethic and a commitment you don’t see in some younger workers. I hire a lot of seniors for work at the Council on Aging because they’re best-suited for the things we do.”

Indeed, a study by the Pew Research Center offers a number of reasons seniors are becoming an increasingly more dynamic part of the country’s work force and why employers are more apt to hire them now than they would have been two decades ago.

The study shows that while senior workers are staying longer at their jobs, at the other end of the spectrum younger workers are taking longer to join the work force. With employment opportunities now built around rapidly expanding technology and a growing number of jobs requiring more advanced skill sets, more young adults are getting some level of post-secondary education and are staying in college longer to get advanced degrees.

Vesta Fletcher said she plans to work as long as she can, and she’s added a decorative touch to daughter B.J. Fletcher’s BJ’s Country Buffet restaurant. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Pew says seniors are remaining at their jobs because of an overall decline in the economy, the reduction of benefits afforded seniors when they retire, an increasing number of women in the work force and the improving health of the senior population.

“I’ve been fortunate that the Lord has blessed me with good health pretty much all my life,” Vesta Fletcher, who pulls a regular shift at daughter B.J. Fletcher’s BJ’s Country Buffet restaurant, said. “I’ve had a few things over the years, but I still have the energy to go to work.

“The way I look at it, going to work gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I’ve worked all my life, and if I didn’t have a job to go to, I’d have to find something else to do. What else am I going to do?”

Research also shows that employers are taking a closer look at senior workers because they have a stronger work ethic, have skills that many younger workers have not developed, they’re less likely to increase job turnover because they’re more settled and they have more flexibility than their younger counterparts.

Anna Choi has exhibited just those characteristics in her 40-plus years as co-owner/manager of Albany’s House of China restaurants. She’s a dynamic presence still at House of China II, along with son Mike Choi.

“If I’m here, I know the details will be looked after,” Anna Choi said of her long-time presence at the eatery. “Otherwise it would be too much for my son to do alone. Coming to work makes me feel younger, keeps me healthier. It takes energy to keep things running even in the tough economic times.

“Coming to work also makes life not too boring. I’ve served four generations of people at the restaurant, and they’ve become more than customers to me. They are like friends, and I want to make sure they get the best food.”

Vesta Fletcher shows off the “little library” in front of Albany restaurant BJ’s Country Buffet. The library stands as a tribute to Fletcher’s late daughter, Robin Elmore. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)

Like a growing number of senior citizens who have found retirement not so much to their liking, Frank Wilson decided to rejoin the work force when he was offered the opportunity to direct activities at the Albany Civil Rights Institute.

“This job was an opportunity to make a difference in the community that appealed to me because I absolutely knew I still had something to offer,” Wilson said. “Plus, there’s only so much ‘Matlock’ and ‘Heat of the Night’ you can watch on TV.

“I’ve gotten older, yes, but I still have a lot of ideas, a lot of things going on in my head. This position gives me somewhere to put those ideas into practice. The fact that I’m a history major and, essentially, the message of the Civil Rights Institute is my life, I have the perfect place to direct my interests and my energy.”

Hind, who is herself well past “retirement age,” says she’d be bored without the challenges that directing the SOWEGA Council on Aging presents. That, she says, keeps her engaged and, in her mind, keeps her young.

“There’s something new here every day,” she said. “It may be good or bad, but you don’t know when you come to work every day what’s going to happen. I feel like if I don’t go in, I’m going to miss something.”

The council takes part in a state-sponsored Senior Community Service Employment Program initiative that offers basic job training for persons 55 and over. While involved in the program, participants are actually paid a minimum-wage stipend, but the ultimate goal is to find permanent employment for them.

“A lot of folks who have gone through the program have found full-time work,” Hind said. “That’s one of the reason those stats you mentioned are not surprising.”

Like many seniors who have remained a part of the work force, Fletcher says the desire to continue working was ingrained in her long ago.

“My dad always worked three jobs, and we had a little farm,” she said. “We always worked from the time we were old enough to help out. I could pick cotton all day, although I didn’t weigh in a lot at the end of the day.

“I’ve worked all my life, and I thank God that He’s allowed me to be able. I like to watch Westerns on TV and go with my oldest daughter Judy to a casino in Wetumpka for a little fun. But, basically, I enjoy going to work. I don’t think God really intended for us to retire.”

Choi said there is a cultural element to her work ethic.

“In China, it is always better to keep going,” she said.

Wilson, who has been at the ACRI for 15 months and has shown no signs of slowing down, said he’s put together a list of long-range goals that he wants to accomplish before he steps down.

“I haven’t discovered that this is a job yet,” he said. “I’m having too much fun. We open the museum at 10, but I’m usually here at 8, 8:30 every day. I can’t wait to start working on my next idea.

“There’s some truth in that old saying about youth being wasted on the young. I think it’s important that we preserve the history of the Civil Rights movement and make this facility a beacon in the area. Who has time for retirement? It’s way overrated.”


Date Posted: November 14, 2014
SOWEGA Council on Aging hosted Open House - over 150 people attended seeking information and resources on Aging & Disability


Date Posted: November 06, 2014
On Nov. 6, 2014, the C.O.P.E (Community Outreach Programs and Education) held a lunch & learn at the SOWEGA Council on Aging.


Date Posted: November 05, 2014
Tickets sold out in a matter of hours for this popular lunch & learn event. Derrell Humphries teaches seniors tips on how to gift wrap for all occasions.


Date Posted: September 18, 2014
Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation donates $1 million to SOWEGA Council on Aging

ALBANY HERALD - Mary Braswell

ALBANY —The SOWEGA Council on Aging didn’t underplay its promise of “big news” Thursday at the dedication of its ballroom Thursday, named for Harry and Jeanette Weinberg. The Council announced it had received a $1 million grant from the Weinbergs’ foundation.

The grant, which council officials say is the largest the organization has received from a private foundation, was first reported at

Izzie Sadler, development director for the SOWEGA Council on Aging, wrote the grant that brought $1 million to the Kay H. Hind Senior Life Enrichment Center. (Staff photo: Mary Braswell)

“This is an exciting day and I am excited,” SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind told the group that assembled at 11 a.m. outside the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Ballroom. “In fact, I’ve already done this. I dreamed about it last night.

“You may not know Harry and Jeanette Weinberg, but they are very special people and they have a foundation. And their mission is much like ours, to serve older people, needy people, other people, and make a real difference in their lives and in the community. And toward that end — and this is my big announcement — they have granted us $1 million.”

Hind said the grant will go a long way toward enabling the council to continue its work on behalf of the elderly in Southwest Georgia.

“Obviously, this size grant is just unbelievable and it will help us to sustain this program into the future,” Hind said. “You know, this property here is valued at approximately $9 million and their million will go toward that construction. And I’m really proud to announce that of that, we have paid off all but $1 million and we are in the process of getting long-term financing. And we are confident — the board and the advisory committee, the administrative staff — that we can pay those payments and go on and on and on with this wonderful place.”

Hind thanked those who had supported the realization of the Senior Life Enrichment Center at 335 W. Society Ave. that bears her name, noting the organization has had the support of local residents, local and state governments, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, which purchased the land and donated to the council. She said she didn’t want to leave anyone out.

“Whoever you are, if you gave us $5 toward the program, we thank you,” she said, before drawing a laugh with: “If you gave us $1 million, we really thank you.”

Hind said the realization of the grant had been largely through the hard work of the council’s development director, Izzie Sadler. Sadler said she searched the Internet two years ago looking for the top foundations that supported programs similar to the Council on Aging’s. As her research continued and she made inquiries of those that seemed to fit the council’s operations, the list winnowed down. She focused on the Weinberg Foundation, a 55-year-old private foundation with more than $2 billion in assets that annually distributes about $100 million in grants. Of its grants, 30 percent go to programs, services and capital expense projects that serve the elderly, a factor that matched up well with the SOWEGA Council’s mission.

While the $1 million is a capital grant, foundation officials were concerned about specific issues. First, Sadler said, the council had to show it served the elderly, poor and frail. Second, it had to show it addressed basic needs. Finally, the council had to show how its program could influence elderly support in other places across America.

When foundation officials had difficulty finding time for an on-site inspection of the council’s facilities, Sadler turned to technology to show where the Council on Aging was, how it did its work and where it had been. She used Google Earth to create a video showing the five locations where the council had been spread out before coming to the Senior Enrichment Center that opened in November. For the tour of the current facility, Weinberg Foundation officials suggested she use live video streaming to give them a virtual tour.

“I think it’s (the Hind Center) a beautiful representation of how we feel about seniors,” Sadler said. “The old USO building we were in was a great place to meet, but it wasn’t a place to grow. And this is a place to grow and a place for people to come and to be happy.

“We all think seniors deserve a beautiful place to come to, a place to be with friends, a place to learn, a place to enjoy a warm meal and a place to live with dignity.”

The vision Hind had nearly a half-century ago has placed Southwest Georgia on the forefront of elderly services, she said.

“I have to say the 46 years of work that the SOWEGA Council on Aging has done in this community is what built the groundwork for all these innovative ideas and programs to emerge. … Now we’ve got a center that’s different, that’s innovative that other cities — across the world, really — can look at and learn from it and how we should treat seniors.”

In her opening remarks, Lori Farkas, president of the SOWEGA Council on Aging Board, reiterated Hind’s role in the facility coming into existence.

“This wonderful facility began as a light of one small candle in the heart of Kay Hind many years ago,” Farkas said. “As she kindled that flickering idea, it grew and became a bonfire in the hearts and the minds of her staff and her board of directors, city leaders and state leaders, and even leaders on a national level.”

Since its opening in November, she said, “It’s been a glowing success.”

According to the foundation’s website, Harry Weinberg’s parents, Joseph and Sarah Weinberg, left their home in Sambor in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1911 to emigrate to the United States. (Sambor is now known as the Ukrainian city of Sambir.)

While the family had modest means, Harry Weinberg, who was 3 when they arrived in the U.S., was at age 10 selling souvenirs to parade-goers in Baltimore, Md., who were celebrating the end of World War I. For several years, he worked in his father’s body-and-fender shop, but foundation officials said he was eager to strike out on his own, leaving home in his teens to seek his fortune.

Though he had just a sixth-grade education, in the 1950s-60s, he headed a diverse intra-urban transportation empire, owning mass transit bus lines in New York, Scranton, Dallas and Honolulu. He accumulated an even larger fortune in securities and real estate. Known for helping many German Jews who came to America in the 1930s, in 1959 he created The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation as his long-term vehicle for consistent charitable activity that would continue long into the future.

Harry Weinberg died on Nov. 4, 1990, a little more than a year after his wife, Jeanette, passed away. At the time of his death, he was the largest single real estate investor in the state of Hawaii.


Date Posted: September 12, 2014
Join us for "The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Ballroom" dedication


Date Posted: September 03, 2014
Join us on September 9, 2:00-4:00pm. The Division of Aging is interested in receiving input from older adults, persons with disabilities, family caregivers, agencies and advocacy groups serving these individuals, and other interested parties.


Date Posted: August 25, 2014
This 6-week course provides important information to Caregivers, register NOW for September.

Instructors:  Denise Robinson and Cynthia Wade

September 23, 2014 – October 28, 2014 (every Tues. for 6 weeks)

Time:  11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Location:  Senior Life Enrichment Center, Magnolia Room 3rd Floor

335 W. Society Ave., Albany


Date Posted: August 13, 2014
Bank of America donates to Meals on Wheels program



The SOWEGA Council on Aging got a big helping hand for its meals on wheels program.

Bank of America presented a check for $2,500 to Meals on Wheels Monday.

Meals on Wheels serves more than 186,000 meals per year in 14 counties in southwest Georgia.

Many elderly neighbors rely on Meals on Wheels for a hot meal.

Annie Flanigan has been volunteering with meals on wheels since 2001.

"I just enjoy doing things for others," she said. "If we carry 'em something extra like a piece of cake they really enjoy that and tell us how happy they are that we brought it to them."

Albany residents on the route say the volunteers make things even better.

"Oh I enjoy it very much and everybody is real friendly they be on time I don't have to worry about a meal," said Brenda Thomas.

Kathy Turner says Meals on Wheels has touched her personally as a blessing for her mother.

"The volunteers go above and beyond because she always has things to tell me about when they deliver," said Turner. I know for a lot of others it may be the only people they see all day. It really is a phenomenal organization."

Turner was delighted to be part of giving back by giving the SOWEGA Council on Aging a check for it's meals on wheels program.

"We're delighted to have this donation and we'll use it to provide more meals," said Kay Hind with the Council.


Date Posted: May 05, 2014


Date Posted: April 25, 2014
Ladies of all ages can enjoy high tea. $10 per person, benefits our seniors!


Date Posted: April 14, 2014
Meeting to be held at the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany. Learn about important legislative updates concerning seniors.


Date Posted: March 20, 2014
Join us in celebrating the Grand Opening of the Senior Life Enrichment Center in Albany


Date Posted: March 11, 2014
Learn the basics of using a computer


Date Posted: March 11, 2014
Do you have concerns about falling? Find answers here...


Date Posted: January 27, 2014
Tickets sold out and over 400 people showed up for Empty Bowls 2014!

Now in its third year, Empty Bowls has enjoyed great success in the community, bringing people from all walks of life together for an afternoon of food, fun and fellowship, while raising funds for a worthy cause.

Representatives from Albany Techinical College serve hungry guests Monday at Empty Bowls at the SOWEGA Council on Aging. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

Guests also were treated to an inside look at the SOWEGA Council of Aging’s brand-new center at 335 W. Society Ave.

With ticket admission, attendees received lunch and their choice of a one-of-kind bowl made by a local artist.

But to get first pickings, it’s best to be early.

“The event started at 11:30 a.m., but I got here shortly after 11,” said Kiki Hall, who was attending her first Empty Bowls event. “The line was already well-established when I got here.”

That line was established by regular attendees Paula Long and Judy Rainey, the first two people in line at 10:45 a.m.

Hundreds enjoy an afternoon of fellowship and food at Empty Bowls. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

“This is a wonderful event – I just love it,” said Long. “And it is for such a good cause.”

As guests contemplated which particular bowls might best match the décor of their homes, a “Soup du Jour” menu displayed a preview of soup options available in the main reception area.

After choosing their bowls, guests had their items wrapped and bagged before continuing inside for a fresh, hot lunch. Surrounding the room were a variety of options from local caterers, schools and restaurants, all giving service with a smile.

“The soups are always so delicious,” Long noted. “The only problem is that you fill up faster than you can eat – I wish I could try them all.”

For those who had trouble deciding, samples were available for taste-testing before making a final decision.

Along with supporting a good cause, participation in Empty Bowls provides an opportunity for restaurants and chefs in the community to advertise their wares and promote menu items.

For Albany Technical College’s Culinary Arts Program, the event also presents a great platform for teaching.

“We teach and demonstrate every step of making the soup for the students,” said Todd White, ATC department chair of culinary arts.

“From the prep work, to slicing vegetables, to making a roux – with every stage of cooking, we are able to help our students get valuable experience with practicing their skills.”

ATC’s potato leek soup with fresh toppings was suitable to a variety of taste buds.

“We’ve arranged it so whether you prefer meat in your soup or not, you can fix it to your preference,” said senior Wesley Higdon. “We have the base of the soup prepared, and then people can add whatever toppings they like.”

For Higdon, Empty Bowls provided educational experience as well as an excellent opportunity for networking and speaking with future potential employers.

“It’s really been nice to be able to speak with representatives from other venues here today,” Higdon said. “Hopefully something great will work out as a result.”

“He’s our star student,” said ATC Culinary Lab Tech Kathy Stubbs. “They’d be lucky to have him.”

Among all of the vendors, there was a delicious something for everyone available, with a definite option for seconds.

By noon, the lines were gone, but stomachs were full, and smiles evident on every face.

“This is definitely an event that we will continue in the future,” said Albany Area Arts Council Executive Director Carol Hetzler. “It’s just such a great way to bring the community together.”


Date Posted: November 26, 2013
See the "Publications" page for updated agency information

Agency Brochure, Annual Report and Bi-Monthly Newlsetter are available on the "Publications" page.


Date Posted: November 21, 2013

ALBANY HERALD —  Jennifer Parks

An appearance from the Caregiver of the Year for Georgia, an address from Albany Downtown Manager Aaron Blair, an annual report review and remarks on the future of the SOWEGA Council on Aging with regards to the new center about to open was included in the annual meeting for the agency on Thursday.

The meeting was held Thursday at First United Methodist Church on Flint Avenue in downtown Albany.

The latest update on the center given Thursday indicated that the new SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center is expected to be occupied by mid-January. The 45,000-square-foot center is being built at a site formerly owned by Byne Memorial Baptist Church at 335 W. Society Ave.

In all, the project is a $7.8 million undertaking with funding being secured for the center through special-purpose, local-option sales tax dollars, funding from the city and Housing and Urban Development grants as well as loans, capital campaigns, donations, fundraising events and property sales.

The land for the facility was purchased by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital after Byne moved out, and Phoebe donated it in 2008 to the Council on Aging. Over time, funding for the project was collected, and ground was eventually broken at the site last year. The center — designed to bring the resources of five facilities under one roof — will include at least two elevators, a den, a kitchen that will be used for the Meals on Wheels program as well as other community events, a dining room that will have the same wood floor used for the gymnasium once in its place, a boardroom with a smart board, about 80 offices, an overflow room for receptions, a classroom, computer lab, craft rooms and a fitness room.

Along with a brief overview on the agency’s caregiver services was a few words from Caregiver of the Year Michael Jones, who has been serving as a primary caregiver for roughly 20 years.

In his remarks Thursday, Jones encouraged people to use the holiday season as an opportunity to think about what arrangements they want to make for themselves when it comes time for them to need full-time care.

“Caregiving involves the entire family,” he said. “One day, we will all be older and need the help of one of these facilities. We all deserve to be cared for and all deserve to be loved.”

At his turn at the podium, Blair gave appreciation to the council for saving a building in the downtown district with the construction of the new center and the meaning that might potentially have for people who knew it when it was still in the hands the church.

“Salvaging that (holds a certain) meaning for people,” he said. ” … You may have saved memories (and pride) for people.

“People ask me: ‘Why is downtown so important.’ … It can be said with one word — meaning. Loss of beauty (is connected) to a loss of meaning.”

At the end of the meeting, there was a nominating committee report that listed Carol Boyd, Juanita Benson, Kenneth Cutts, Lorie Farkas, Walter Judge, Eugene Sherman and Pam McDonald to serve on a three year term on the board of directors. A vote was to be taken on what officer positions they would serve after the meeting.


Date Posted: November 12, 2013
Budget Cuts, Sequestration, Programs, and New Senior Life Enrichment Center Updates

ALBANY HERALD — Jennifer Parks

Progress is on track for the new SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center, with occupancy of the building set to begin in a few weeks, officials at the Council on Aging say.

The 45,000-square-foot center — which is being built at a site formerly owned by Byne Memorial Baptist Church —will be seeing some activity soon as SOWEGA Council on Aging begins to move into the building throughout the month of December prior to its grand opening in January.

Debbie Blanton, assistant director of SOWEGA Council on Aging, and Izzie Sadler, the agency’s development director, gave an update on the center — as well as the Council in general — to the Dougherty Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Blanton started off by giving gratitude to the civic club for the services it is involved in that the Council’s clients benefit from, such as Meals on Wheels and Santas for Seniors. Then she made mention of some incoming cuts that are at least expected to impact clients receiving home delivered meals through the agency.

“Last Friday, we received notice that we would be getting a $300,000 cut (as part of) the sequester, and $130,000 will directly affect our nutrition program,” she said. “This is not the first time we have received cuts, and it will not be the last.”

Such cuts affect programs and services the agency offers, which is not the same pool of funding used to pay off the costs of the new center. In all, the project is a $7.8 million undertaking with funding being secured for the center through special-purpose, local-option sales tax dollars, funding from the city and Housing and Urban Development grants as well as loans, capital campaigns, donations, fundraising events and property sales.

Before turning the program over to Sadler to talk more about the new center, Blanton had one thing to say about the facility. “It’s a beautiful memorial to aging. It’s a great place to grow old.”

The land for the facility was purchased by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital after Byne moved out, and Phoebe donated it in 2008 to SOWEGA Council on Aging. Over time, funding for the project was collected, and ground was eventually broken at the site — at 335 W. Society Ave. — in October 2012. The center, designed to bring the resources of five facilities under one roof, will include at least two elevators, a den, a kitchen that will be used for the Meals on Wheels program as well as other community events, a dining room that will have the same wood floor used for the gymnasium once in its place, a boardroom with a smart board, more than 80 offices, an overflow room for receptions, a classroom, computer lab, craft rooms and a fitness room.

The dining room, Sadler said, will be big enough to seat 300 people banquet style, or 500 people theater style.

Currently, the council offers 20 programs and services by utilizing 15 centers in 14 counties.

“There are 10,000 people a day turning 65,” Sadler said. “We are trying to figure out a way locally … how the community is going to meet that need.”

The fitness room will be dedicated to Jessi Massey, mother of Albany retired coach and educator Jesse Massey, for the $10,000 contribution he made earlier this year to the Council on Aging for the purchase of fitness equipment. Other than donation from Massey in September, among the most recent contributions to be made include $300,000 in additional funding approved by the Albany City Commission last month and a benefit concert on Saturday featuring Todd Allen Herendeen.

The first event slated to take place at the new center will be the Empty Bowls fundraiser to benefit Meals on Wheels and the Albany Area Arts Council. It will take place Jan. 27 with tickets costing $20 each. Attendees will get a soup lunch, and will then be able to take home a bowl made by an area artist, Sadler said.


Date Posted: November 11, 2013
November 14


Date Posted: November 11, 2013
Important information for ASU Allumni


Date Posted: November 07, 2013
Lane Rosen brings great entertainment to Albany...benefiting senior programs.

ALBANY HERALD, Carlton Fletcher

Sadly, music fans will no longer get to experience the thrilling live performances of late music legends Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly.

But Saturday night, Southwest Georgia music lovers will have an opportunity to connect with the spirit of those great artists and others.

Indiana native Todd Allen Herendeen, one of the most dynamic musical showmen working in America today, is set to bring his Tribute to the Legends show to the Albany Municipal Auditorium on Saturday. The 7 p.m. performance will benefit the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging.  State Theatre owner Lane Rosen is promoting the benefit show.

“The Council on Aging has been our good neighbors at the State for the last 10 years,” Rosen said. “We are acutely aware of their economic predicament, so we wanted to help any way we could. It’s always good to do something that benefits our community, and the Council on Aging is one of our greatest causes. Some of the programs they provide give some of our senior citizens the only human contact they have all day.

“We were planning to have Todd’s show at the State because there is such a local demand to see him, but we decided to hold it at the Municipal Auditorium because it’s a more appropriate venue and gives us an opportunity to raise more money for the Council on Aging.”

Herendeen, whose patriotic 2011 single “My Name Is America” reached the No. 1 spot on the “indie” world country music chart, has opened for such superstar acts as Jerry Lee Lewis, B.J. Thomas, the Four Tops, “Little” Jimmy Dickens, Tim McGraw, Gretchen Wilson, the Beach Boys, the Platters, Diamond Rio, Foreigner and Rhett Akins. He has also hosted TV’s The Todd Allen Variety Show.

SOWEGA Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler said proceeds from Saturday’s show will help with a number of the council’s ongoing projects, as well as the construction of its new Senior Enrichment Center.

“Because of the (2010) census numbers, we received a big cut in the funding we get from the federal government,” Sadler said. “What people don’t know, though, is that because of sequestration, unless things change we will continue to have our funding cut for years to come.

“We’ve actively tried to diversify our funding, and community support is an important part of that. Lane contacted me about doing this benefit, and I think the fact he would hold it at the Municipal Auditorium rather than his own venue shows what a true supporter of our mission he is. We’re receiving 50 percent of the net proceeds from the show, and that funding will be used for several of our programs and to maintain our new facility.”

General admission tickets for Herendeen’s Legends Tribute are $40, while limited reserve seating is available for $50. Tickets are available at the Council on Aging’s 1105 Palmyra Road offices, at Austin’s Firegrill and at Moe’s Southwest Grill. For reserved seating contact Rosen at (229) 344-2237.

For additional information about the benefit concert, contact Rosen or the Council on Aging at (229) 432-1124.


Date Posted: October 02, 2013
Registration is now open for the "Serving Up Meals" tennis tournament


Date Posted: October 17, 2013

Albany Herald, Carlton Fletcher

Albany, GA -

Albany city leaders unanimously approved $300,000 to complete a new senior center.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director requested the money for finishing touches to the $7.7 Million center slated to open in a few months.

The building is 85% completed and has proven to be more expensive than expected.  But commissioners hope a little nudge will help bring it to completion.

City leaders said the workers finishing up the state of the art building are constructing a monument to our senior citizens.

"I'm really excited that the completion of the center is in November, and look forward to going to spending time and visiting with folks at the center," said Christopher Pike, Albany City Commissioner.

All kinds of community programs will be offered for those in need and for those looking to connect with others.

"You know, nobody stays young (laughs).  We hope that it'll be here for a long time serving the people that need and enjoy the program," said Kay Hind, SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director.

But the council needed an additional $300,000 for the project in the face of mounting costs, like the $1 Million it took just to clear the land.

"Projects, from time to time, they do go over budget and we felt comfortable that the request was realistic and that it would really help them meet their expectations and their desires to serve the senior citizens of our community," said Pike.

Seniors aren't the only one who will benefit from the building.  Commissioners say the center will generate more traffic to the downtown area, which could spark economic growth.

"We took a blighted property and turned it into a facility that's very nice and attractive.  So it also helps with our downtown revitalization efforts as well," said Pike.

Hind said Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital may have been motivated to donate the land in hopes it would help clean up the area.

"We did have a difficult time at first.  It had been vacant like 13 years and a lot of people were staying there and using it for various purposes and it took a lot," said Hind.

Though the building is for our seniors, Hind said the entire city will be proud of the new center.

Most of the $300,000 will go for landscaping and irrigation.  Workers will begin moving into the space sometime in December.  The building will officially open in January.


Date Posted: October 09, 2013
Government Shutdown Concerning Seniors

By Aaryn Valenzuela

Many South Georgia seniors are watching developments with the government shutdown, worried it will take money away from programs they depend on.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging was already dealing with budget cuts from sequestration, but so far things haven't gotten worse for them because of the shutdown.

Ruby Johnson visits the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging's Senior Center two to three times a week. She says it's a great place to enjoy a good meal and some company.

"If we didn't have this we would be bored. Our family members don't have to worry about us. Its a secure place, and its really great," says Ruby johnson, an area senior.

But as the government shutdown continues, the threat of more federally funded programs being cut is a concern for many people, including Johnson. She says many seniors don't have any other place to go.

"I mean we are seniors and its hard to find any other place, because they provide transportation also, for the ones who can't drive, and provide transportation so its really a blessing. the SOWEGA council on aging is really a blessing," says Johnson.

Kay Hind is the Executive Director of the Sowega Council on Aging, and says they are heavily supported by state and federal funding, but so far none of their programs, including meals on wheels, have been impacted.

"Well let me say this, we are operating normally now, of course I keep up as much as I can with whats going on, but at this point we don't have any plans to make any changes," says Kay Hind, Executive Director of Sowega Council on Aging.

Meals on wheels volunteers deliver about 125 meals daily in Dougherty county five days it week.  For many, it's the only hot meal they get each day.

"Maybe they have a physical handicap that they can't stand up there, they are too shaky or they can't see, you know, whatever it is," says Johnson.

Hind says if the shutdown continues and something does change they will give advance notice.

Meals on wheels is one of more than 20 programs the Sowega Council on Aging administers, serving seniors in 14 counties.

You have to be at least 60 years old to qualify for Meals on Wheels. A tennis tournament later this month will raise money for the program.


Date Posted: September 25, 2013
Coach Massey Gives Generous Donation

ALBANY, GA -- WFXL, Franklin White

On Thursday, SOWEGA Council on Aging received a huge donation to go toward buying new equipment for the fitness center in the new building located on Society Avenue.

The amount awarded totaled $10,000 and all the money donated is from local resident Jesse Massey.

He says all the money given was from years and years of saving and wanting to help provide a better life for the elderly.

Massey says, "why not help something that's going to help everybody including myself one day."

Kay Hind, Executive Director with SOWEGA Council on Aging says, "we're so excited about someone from the community stepping up and doing something for the community. We welcome that and welcome anyone else who would like to donate." 

The donation will be used to buy treadmills, bicycle, weights and an arm cycle for those using wheelchairs.

The new building will be known as the Senior Life Enrichment Center, and is expected to be completed in December. The building is currently being constructed, and is at 80 percent completion at last check. Demolition started on the building in 2008.

The old locations are on 311 Pine Avenue, and at the Albany Housing Authority. The total cost for the project is $7.9 million dollars.


Date Posted: September 25, 2013
Massey supports Senior Life Enrichment Center

Albany Herald - Jennifer Parks

ALBANY — While the finishing touches are now being put on what will soon become the SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center, donations are still needed to bring the project to completion.

Among the most recent benefactors for the center was retired coach and educator Jesse Massey, who donated $10,000 to Council on Aging officials this week for the purchase of equipment to go in what will become the center’s fitness room.

As of earlier this week, the 45,000-square-foot center — which is being built at a site formerly owned by Byne Memorial Baptist Church — was 80 percent complete. The land was later purchased by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and Phoebe donated it in 2008 to SOWEGA. Over time, funding for the project was collected, and ground was eventually broken at the site — at 335 W. Society Ave. — in October 2012.

Bringing several facilities under one roof, officials say the project is expected to be complete in December — putting it on track for a grand opening in early 2014.

The center will include at least two elevators, a den, a kitchen that will be used for the Meals on Wheels program as well as other community events, a dining room that will have the same wood floor used for the gymnasium that was once in its place, boardroom with a smart board, more than 80 offices, an overflow room for receptions, a classroom, computer lab, craft rooms and the fitness room — which will be dedicated to Massey’s mother, Jessi Massey.

The fitness room, as it is now, has holes visible in the floor were the treadmills will go. With the help of Jesse Massey’s donation, the room will also have stationary bicycles, weights, arm cycles for the wheelchair-bound and a couple of TV sets — which are expected to be ordered in the next month, officials say.

The former educator, who grew up in a home nearby the future center, said he had been saving up since 2008 in order to present the $10,000 check to Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind this week.

“He has been a supporter of ours for years. It’s not surprising in his retirement (that he would make this contribution),” Hind said. “We are so excited about someone from the community stepping up. In this case, we didn’t even have to ask. We welcome this, and anyone else who wants to help.”

This particular donation, Hind said, ties into the overall mission of allowing senior citizens to live longer and healthier lives.

“One of the things we are hoping to do is get older people to improve themselves,” she said.

Jesse Massey said he first met Hind in 2001 when a group of students from Albany Middle School chose the council as the non-profit they wanted to support — resulting in a $125 donation.

“It was small, but it was from the heart,” he said. “I retired in 2008, and when this (project) came into being, I jumped on that. It is so important that others jump on board.

“There are two things I do — young people and old people. (I made the donation) because of the need to help the community. I’ve got to live here, so I’ve got to make it better. I’m almost a senior citizen, and I’m trying to help out.”

The retired coach also said the donation was also part of a personal goal he has made for himself in honor of his fraternity celebrating 100 years to do 100 good deeds in one year.

Massey’s check adds to the $5.8 million that has been raised so far for the $7.8 million project. Special-purpose, local-option sales tax dollars have contributed $3 million, funding from the city and Housing and Urban Development grants have brought in $642,918, while capital campaigns, donations, recent fundraising events and property sales have contributed $2.2 million to the project.

This leaves $2 million that still needs to be raised in order to bring the project to completion.

“It is taking all the money we’ve got, plus a little more,” Hind said. ” … We are still raising money. We don’t have enough. We are looking at a mortgage.”


Date Posted: August 26, 2013
Volunteers and donors help make Meals on Wheels program a success

WFXL - Franklin White

It only takes a couple of hours, and just a few days out of the month to provide a hot meal to someone though Meals on Wheels.

A program that officials say is so beneficial and why a small donation can travel a long way.

For the past 20 years, Anne Owen has dedicated her time providing a meal to the people who need it most.

She says once a month she volunteers with Meals on Wheels servicing people in the East Albany community.

Lucille Crouch, Meals on Wheels Director says the program has over 300 volunteers, which helps them provide over 186,000 meals per year to the 14 counties they serve.

So good, that because of those hefty donations and fundraisers they were able to raise over $75,000 in this year alone.

Izzie Sadler with the SOWEGA Council on Aging says, "We also do a lot of fundraisers in our community and try to incorporate fun ways to raise these funds."

And for Owen she says her love and compassion for people keeps her doing what she does.

Owen says, "it's a little more than waving to somebody or giving someone money this is actually physically getting out and doing it and it is a touchy feely thing and it does make you feel good."


Date Posted: August 26, 2013
Meals on Wheels receives support from Darden Restaurants



The SOWEGA Council on Aging, Area on Aging received a $1,000 grant as part of the Restaurant Community Grants program from the Darden Foundation.

The donation will give the Council the chance to serve 142 meals to seniors through the Meals on Wheels program.

SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind says, "not only do we appreciate the donation, we also appreciate the recognition."

The Darden Foundation will award more than $1.9 million to more than 850 nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

Red Lobster was on hand to donate the money. They are apart of the Restaurant Community Grant program from the Darden Foundation, the charitable arm of Darden Restaurant, Inc.


Date Posted: August 16, 2013
Dr. Swanberg performed at the 8th Annual Comedy Night - Fundraiser raises much needed funds for Meals on Wheels program

Comedy raises money for seniors

Posted: Aug 15, 2013 11:57 PM EDT Updated: Aug 16, 2013 8:35 AM EDT

The Albany Municipal Auditorium was filled with laughter Thursday night.

Comedian Dennis Swanberg entertained the crowd to raise money for the SOWEGA Council on Aging's Meals on Wheels program.

Organizers hoped to raise about $40,000 for the program that's dealing with severe budget cuts right now. Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler said, "You know meals on wheels is a serious program. It benefits seniors who are homebound. We deliver warm meals to them, which is a serious thing, and so to have a little humor and raise some funds is all good"

This is the 8th year the Council on Aging has put on the Comedy Night fundraiser. They plan to do it again next year.


Date Posted: August 08, 2013


Major funding cuts and a 30-percent increase in Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance costs force the SOWEGA Council on Aging to make its deepest spending cuts ever.

Some services for seniors will be eliminated, and the 29 employees who took advantage of health benefits will have to look elsewhere for coverage. The council's executive director said the timing couldn't be worse.

When the SOWEGA Council on aging was faced with a 13-percent funding cut beginning on July 1st, the executive director began searching for answers.

"How do you absorb 386-thousand-dollars in cuts?  And like I say, even though we are here to serve the elderly, and if I took it all out of services there wouldn't be much left," said Kay Hind, SOWEGA Executive Director.

As a result, the roughly 130 employees who work for the council, 90 of whom are full-time, will have to look for private insurance coverage.  Other cuts include reducing meal services at the council's 15 senior centers among other services, and even a hiring freeze.

"We've cut back on some of our home delivered meals and we really hat to do that because we know they're dependent," said Hind.

She said the cuts in funding came after the census was released.

"Every ten years, when the census comes out, they refigure it.  And this year when we get the word, we had lost a lot of the population."  (Kay Hind, SOWEGA Executive Director).

And the cuts come as the council's new building is roughly 80-percent finished, which has raised some questions about the council's use of money.

"The money that was used for it was SPLOST money that the city and the county approved for us, and the voters voted for it.  And we also got HUD (Housing and Urban Development) grants through Congressman Sanford Bishop," Hind said.

The law designates that money solely for construction.  But now the council plans to attend public hearings to try to change state way the state funds programs.

"We're gonna be there saying it's not the number of people, it's the number of people in need.  And I think we'll be able to get it changed.  It won't be in effect this year, but it can certainly affect next year's budget," said Hind.

She said she doesn't know when she'll have to cut some of the council's meal services...but says she's trying to hold off as long as she can.

The council is hosting a fundraiser for meals on wheels on August 15th.

Call (229)432-1124 or visit for more information on how you can make a donation or buy a ticket to the event.


Date Posted: July 25, 2013
8th Annual Comedy Night Benefits Meals on Wheels - August 15

ALBANY — When the dog days of summer hit, they take a lot out of you and leave you feeling a little down. A nice Italian dinner followed by laughter shared with a few hundred of your closest friends, all for a good cause, could be just the pick-me-up you need.

That’s a pretty specific prescription for what ails you, but the SOWEGA Council on Aging has it all lined up for the evening of Aug. 15.

The 8th annual Comedy Night fundraiser for the Council starts with an Italian Feast at the Hilton Garden Inn followed by quips and stories by Dennis “The Swan” Swanberg, who bills himself as “America’s Minister of Encouragement,” at the Albany Municipal Auditorium.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Council’s Meals on Wheels program, which brings meals to elderly shut-ins year round. Last year the program delivered 186,000 of those meals

“We enjoy putting on the Comedy Night because it gives us the opportunity to laugh and have a good time. Even though we receive budget cuts, we don’t want to be discouraged to the extent in which we can’t enjoy life,” Kay Hind, executive director of SOWEGA Council on Aging, said. “It is important to us that this event is appropriate for the whole family, and we always select a comedian with good, clean humor.”

Swanberg is no stranger to many in the Albany area, having previously performed at Sherwood Baptist Church. In addition to entertaining audiences with his often hilarious tales of growing up, family life and quirky things that can happen at church, he has a repertoire of 20 impressions, including the late Don Knotts’ unforgettable character Barney Fife.

Swanberg, who’s currently performing on a cruise, says he developed his Fife character and other parts of his routine thanks to some unintended inspiration from his mother. “Most moms yell at kids to go outside and play,” he says in a biography section on his website, “My mom would say, ‘You sit there and watch that television — your daddy worked so hard for it!’”

A class clown in high school, Swanberg says he expected a career as a “crazy radio DJ” or a “Funny TV weatherman,” when he started school at Baylor University, but then felt led to enter the ministry. Inspired by Grady Nutt, a Southern Baptist preacher and comedian who appeared on “Hee Haw,” he maintained his entertainment moonlighting while serving as pastor of a number of churches.

He reached a point, however, when he decided to step up to the microphone full time. This year Swanberg is scheduled to appear at more than 150 churches, conferences, businesses and concert events while his TBN and FamNet television shows continue air weekly. His eighth book, this one on men’s ministry. is scheduled to hit the marketplace this year.

Those budget cuts have made success for this year’s Comedy Night fundraiser even more critical. Each of those 186,000 meals that were delivered to homes on weekdays in 2012 costs $7. In addition, the Council provided 146,000 meals at its senior centers in its district.

“Our funding isn’t necessarily for seniors in financial need,” Izzie Sadler, development director for the Council. “It’s for the total number of seniors in the area.

With more seniors locating in north Georgia, the Southwest Georgia regional council has been cut $352,000, Sadler said. Of that cut, $200,000 was from funding for the senior center meals and Meals on Wheels programs.

“We’ve had some pretty severe cuts,” she said, “and that doesn’t include sequestration, which will be kicking in.”

Figuring out ways to make up for spending cuts of that magnitude can leave a person looking for a reason to smile or laugh.

“I think that’s why I love Comedy Night,” Sadler said. “These are serious programs and serious needs. It’s a lighthearted way to raise those funds.”

Swanberg’s performance is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Municipal Auditorium, 200 N. Jackson St. For the first time, the Council is selling premium seating tickets.

“This year we’re offering reserved seating,” she said, adding the cost for a ground-level seat will be $40, while general admission is $30. “In the past, we’ve just opened the doors (with all seats general admission).”

Before the event, attendees can enjoy an Italian Feast at the riverfront Hilton Garden Inn at 101 S. Front St. between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The cost of the meal is $20 per person.

“It’ll be a good, entertaining evening — good entertainment, good meal at an affordable cost,” Sadler said. “Plus, it benefits a great cause. And that’s what it really comes down to.”

Tickets are available online at or at 1105 Palmyra Road. Contact (229) 432-1124.

For Tickets:  See "EVENTS" Tab to order online, or pick up at 1105 Palmyra Road (229) 432-1124


Date Posted: July 10, 2013


Date Posted: July 02, 2013
Register now...and change your life.


Date Posted: June 21, 2013
This 6-week course provides a "Tool Kit" for Caregivers

Are you a Caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who cares for a parent, spouse, friend or relatives, and provides assistance with “activities of daily living,” such as helping someone to eat, bath, dress, transport and toileting.  Other activities you may assist with are house work, balancing a check book, and assisting with doctor appointments.  As a family member or friend, you are doing what comes naturally when you love and care for someone, and you are a caregiver.  Being a caregiver can be overwhelming at times.  There are many resources in your community that assist caregivers, such as the educational resource Powerful Tools for Caregivers.  It is a six-week course that meets once per week. The class will give you a “box of tools” for managing your self-care.  Each class will show you effective approaches on:

  • Taking care of you
  • Reducing personal Stress
  • Changing negative self-talk
  • Communicating your feelings and needs to others
  • Setting limits and asking for help

You will receive a Caregiver Help book that addresses specific caregiver issues.


For more information or to register, contact:  Family Caregiver Program (229) 432-1124.


Date Posted: June 21, 2013
Healthcare leaders come together to share important information with seniors


There's a lot most of us don't understand about the health care reform law. Advocates want to make sure seniors understand aspects of the law that focus on preventive health care to help them avoid expensive hospital stays.

Dollie Mae Roberts is living with congestive hearth failure.  She has to watch the activities she takes part in, so she won't put too much stress on her heart.

"Yes sometimes you feel like you want to do a lot of things that you have been used to doing and you can't do that because it will put a lot of stress on your heart" said Dollie Mae Roberts, event attendee.

She joined other seniors at Phoebe Northwest Thursday night to learn ways to stay out of the hospital.

"We see a high rate of hospital readmissions for certain health conditions and we're just wanting to educate the public so we can help that and make a healthier community," said Babs Hall, Program Manager, SOWEGA Council on Aging.

Roberts says she is extremely appreciative for this event sponsored by Community Outreach Program & Education.

"It's been very helpful because I live with this condition for several years," said Roberts.

But she doesn't let her condition stop her from finding ways to get some exercise in so she can keep her heart strong.

"I continue to cook, I wash, I make beds, I sweep my kitchen floor," said Roberts.

Those activities are helpful, so is the information she received Thursday night from health leaders.

Organizers of Thursday's event want to help seniors manage chronic health problems and prevent other illnesses.

"We always want to encourage people to watch their diet and what their intake is, as well as the lifestyle they lead," said Hall.

So in the end, everyone can remain strong like Dollie.

Organizers plan to hold another event like this in the near future.


Date Posted: June 18, 2013
Buy your tickets now for Comedy Night 2013- Benefiting Meals on Wheels!

Go to the "EVENTS" tab to purchase tickets


Date Posted: June 18, 2013
Kay HInd Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Albany Herald - Editorial Board


The rest of the state now knows something that many in the Albany area were already well aware of: For more than four decades, Kay Hind has been a force of positive impact on Albany and Southwest Georgia.

Last week at the Healthy Community Summit in Macon, Hind was given an award recognizing the hard, selfless work she has done on behalf of older people in our area through the SOWEGA Council on Aging. Hind was awarded the Georgia Aging Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Indeed, her life had been one of achievement, and residents of Albany and Southwest Georgia have been the beneficiaries.

“Obviously, I don’t do it alone,” Hind said in an interview with The Albany Herald. “I just happen to be the figurehead. I got the award, but because I’m here and the programs work. We can be a role model for some of the other programs.”

There is truth in that statement. No organization such as the SOWEGA Council on Aging could be successful without a team effort by dedicated, talented individuals. But there is also a great deal of Hind’s characteristic modesty. As executive director, she has been the captain of her organization’s ship, the one who determines a direction and steers everyone on board toward it. Without vision, there would be nothing to see.

And the SOWEGA Council on Aging certainly has plenty to see, from its programs to the new construction that is under way on the Senior Life Enrichment Center at the former site of Byne Memorial Baptist Church on West Society Avenue. This is a project Hind had championed for years, and expectations are that the $8 million, 45,000-square-foot facility will be operating early next year.

Hind’s leadership went a long way toward making that dream a reality, one that will benefit the community along with the people that the council serves.

As she notes, the new facility is full of potential, as is the council’s executive director, who is showing no signs of slowing down.

“The fact they gave it (the award) to me ... it is always nice to be recognized by those who know you,” Hind said. “It doesn’t have to be much, but it is nice to get something. ... I’ve been doing this job for years and I love what I do.”

Our region is fortunate that Hind found the job that she loved here. Albany and Southwest Georgia are all the better for it.


Date Posted: April 26, 2013
City Officials and Board of Directors tour Senior Life Enrichment Center project site

ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany Herald

Jennifer Maddox Parks

While progress continues on the SOWEGA Council on Aging Senior Life Enrichment Center on West Society Avenue, fundraising activities necessary to help pay off the cost for the center's construction are ongoing.

"The building is just going great," said SOWEGA Executive Director Kay Hind. "We did a walk-through this week, and it is unbelievable. I can't imagine this is going to happen."

The center is on track for completion at the end of November. The goal is to have it occupied around Christmas, which will follow with a grand opening in early 2014, Hind said.

"We have talked about having a class on how to use a cell phone. I'll be taking that class," Hind quipped. "... We've already been contacted by groups who want to have their state meetings there."

In addition to a walk-through conducted by the staff earlier in the week, a tour was conducted for area officials at the site Thursday afternoon.

"When we go out and speak to folks about what we will offer, they say, 'That's great,'" said Izzie Sadler, development director for the agency. "But once they see it ..."

Sadler added that its location in the historical district of Albany has been taken into account in the architecture of the 45,000-square-foot building. With the assistance of grants and fundraising events that are upcoming, officials hope to have the center -- worth a total of $8 million -- paid off in the coming months.

One of the fundraisers officials hope will help with that is the Kentucky Derby event "Juleps, Jockeys & Jazz" set for 5 p.m.-8 p.m. May 4 at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club.

Last year's event, the first one SOWEGA conducted, was attended by 350 people.

"We hope to have the same number or more this year," Sadler said.

A hat parade, betting games on the horses, a live jazz band and a silent auction will be among the festivities taking place as the race is streamed live from the country club, officials say.

"We will do everything we did (at the event) last year," Hind said.

A Buster Posey bat is among the items expected to be up for auction at the event. Tickets are $60 a person, and can be purchased online at on the "Events" page, by visiting the office at 1105 Palmyra Road or by calling (229) 432-1124.

Tickets can be bought at the door, but it is preferred that attendees register in advance.

With the center being funded through private donations, special-purpose, local-option sales tax and grants, the monetary support for the building differs from the funds SOWEGA is anticipating cuts from -- which will consist solely of money used for programs the agency offers.

Recent census data indicated that SOWEGA would be receiving a 13.2 percent cut, the biggest for a council on aging in Georgia. Officials on the state level, however, are attempting to work it out so that no region receives more than a 5 percent cut, Hind said.

"That is what we were told last week," she said.

As far as the sequester is concerned, Hind said officials are not sure when those cuts would take effect or how much they would be.

The center, which has been in development for seven years, is anticipated to help close the gap expected to result from the impending cuts."The building will be a means to generate income," Sadler said. "It will be an important part of generating income so we will not be so reliant on state and federal funding."

In the meantime, officials say programing is going full force at the agency with 25 new clients added every month. New educational programs are coming on board, including those catered toward caregiver training, chronic disease self-management and fall prevention, officials say.


Date Posted: March 27, 2013
Help spread the word that Medicare covers screenings for Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

There are 35 million Americans who are 65 years or older. As many as 17 million of them have undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes.


That’s why government, professional and private sector organizations, co-chaired by the American Diabetes Association, Healthcare Leadership Council, and Novo Nordisk Inc., are joining forces to create awareness of the screening benefits for diabetes and pre-diabetes available under Medicare.


Millions of seniors are not getting the treatment they need to prevent heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and amputations. And millions more may be missing a chance to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.


Date Posted: March 25, 2013
Albany Exchange Club Names Charlie Phillips Golden Deed Award Winner


The Albany Exchange Club gave one of their highest awards Friday evening by naming their Golden Deeds award recipient of the year.

89- year-old Charlie Phillips was named this year's Golden Deed award winner.

The winner of the award must improve the community throughout the year without seeking recognition.

Phillips is with the SOWEGA Council on aging and helps builds ramps for the disabled in the community.

"He is somebody that has gone out in the community and taken his own time out. This is not a paid thing, it's a volunteer thing for him and he really puts his heart and soul into making sure good ramps are built," said Golden Deeds Chairman Chuck Knight.

This is the 65th year the Golden Deeds award has been handed out.


Date Posted: March 15, 2013


Date Posted: March 13, 2013
Despite poverty in the area, Southwest Georgia gets biggest cuts in the State


Programs for Southwest Georgia senior citizens face big budget cuts. The SOWEGA Council on Aging has been notified their state funding will be cut by $351,000. Because of Sequester the federal money the agency gets could be cut another 5%.

Despite the poverty in this part of the state, The SOWEGA Council on Aging received the biggest cut of the 12 areas in Georgia in the Agency on Aging.

Now leaders are having to talk about rationing services and cutting meals except for the most in need.

Geneva Bond says she thinks many of her friends at the Pine Avenue Senior Citizen Center are being unfairly targeted by budget cuts. "I believe so. They just seem like they don't care about seniors anymore," she said.

85-year-old Colleen Chappell drives from Mitchell County to the senior center every day to volunteer, because she believes the food and programs for seniors are badly needed. "I think they just don't care about us anymore. I don't know why they target us all the time," she said.

The SOWEGA Council on Aging budget was cut one million dollars in the last fiscal year, to five and a half million dollars to serve the 14 county area. Now because of 2010 Census statistics, SOWEGA faces the biggest cut of the state's 12 area agencies, more than 13%.

Now word to be prepared in July for sequestration federal cuts that could be another 5%. SOWEGA Council On Aging Executive Director Kay Hind said, "All these years that I've been here we have never had anything like this before."

Hind hopes to avoid cutting jobs. The SOWEGA Council on Aging has 140 employees in their 14 counties, and Hind says they will not be hiring anyone to replace people who leave. If the budget cuts go through, she worries it could mean cutting more than 200 meals a day.

"I hate to say it, possibly ration things. Like somebody coming three days a week to eat, and the other ones come in two. Whatever we have to do to serve as many people as you can, and not cut anybody off that needs it."

Bond said "A lot of people come here, because it's the only hot meal they get during the day."

Hind says they are working on across the board budget cuts, hitting every program from meals on wheels to homemakers.

Chappell worries about the seniors at her center, who depend on it.  "I thought it was just very unfair for the seniors, because they live on a fixed income. With everything else going higher and them still cutting, it's just bad."

Bad for senior citizens, being told to get by with less again.

Kay Hind said the cuts will not affect their new senior center that's currently under construction. Once it opens, the agency will reduce expenses by centralizing programs and earn income by renting out facilities.

Hind said she's glad that state legislators returned money for senior caregiver and protective services that was cut earlier. Now she hopes more money can be found to lessen the impact of proposed cuts.


Date Posted: March 12, 2013
Grant helps fund "A Matter of Balance" - fall prevention program


During a Monday morning Community Benefits Committee meeting, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials donated close to $85,000 to Southwest Georgia organizations that are making a difference in the community.

Ten groups were given grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.

100 Black Men of Albany received $10,000 for the "Youth Mental Health Alliance" project while the SOWEGA Council on Aging was granted $11,804 for the "Matter of Balance" fall management program.

Representatives with the Council on Aging say the funds will be used to purchase equipment to help prevent the elderly from falling.

Phoebe officials say the money is set aside for community partners who are aligned with the priorities of the hospital.

“The funds that we have are reaching a vast group of different needs within the community; areas such as poverty, health education, and folks with disability. So partnering with all of those non-profits really helps us to broaden our reach,” said Ron Wallace, Chairman of the Phoebe Community Benefits Committee.


Date Posted: February 20, 2013
Making the switch to Electronic Federal Benefit payments


The SOWEGA Council on Aging is trying to educate elders on the fast-approaching March 1st Go Direct deadline that will require all people to switch to electronic payments from the United States Treasury Department.

The department gave people that will be affected a year to make the switch but now the deadline is almost here and Georgia Cares Coordinator with the SOWEGA Council on Aging Brian Ramey says he wants to make sure everyone knows what to expect.

Those who receive checks from the treasury department like social security, retirement, or military benefits will no longer receive them in paper format. People have the option to set up a direct deposit with their bank account or accept future payments on a prepaid debit card.

Ramey says the office has tried to educate elders, who are sometimes not computer savvy, of how to make the change but there are always people who slip through the cracks.

If a person does not call, go online or go to their bank to set up direct deposit, they will automatically receive the prepaid card instead.

Ramey says if you somehow miss the deadline, don't worry you will still get your check, it just won't be as quick.

The department is making the switch to try and save money used on all of the paper and prevent lost or stolen checks.


Date Posted: February 07, 2013
For individuals age 60+ with low to moderate income


The SOWEGA Council on Aging wants to help you file your taxes.

The group is offering free tax counseling and preparation with E-filing to moderate and low-income taxpayers with special attention to people over 60.

The program started Monday and runs through April 15th

Volunteers encourage people to take advantage of the opportunity.

"If you go to a paid preparer, it's going to cost you money and if you're in the low income bracket then you don't need to be spending it. That's the benefit we see," said volunteer Laura McKinney.

Returns will be prepared on Mondays and Tuesdays.

You need an appointment. To setup an appointment, call (229) 432-113


Date Posted: February 07, 2013
Thanks to Shane Kelley and Monsanto Fund


Shane Kelley, a farmer in Newton, was selected as a winner in America's Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.

The contest gives the winner $2,500 to donate to their favorite nonprofit organization. If the county is designated as a disaster area, which Newton was, the farmer gets to donate an extra $2,500 to another organization.

Kelley chose to donate the money to the Baker County Senior Center and a local volunteer fire station.

The check was presented to the senior center Thursday morning.

Kay Hind, president of the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging, said with recent budget cuts, the senior center is even more excited to be receiving this donation. She also said the first thing they plan to do with the money is throw a Valentine's Day party for the senior citizens.


Date Posted: February 06, 2013
Black History Month Celebration


In recognition of Black History Month, Dr. Jacqueline H. Grant, District Health Director for the Southwest Georgia Health District, is addressing seniors at the Albany Senior Center 309 Pine Avenue.  The event is free and open to the community.

Dr. Grant is responsible for managing all public health programs within a 6,000-square-mile, 14-county health district that abuts Alabama to the west and Florida to the south. An Atlanta native, she began her tenure as the top public health official in Southwest Georgia in 2005.

She is a former medical director of the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where she received national recognition in Best Doctors of America, 2003-2004.

Dr. Grant served on the faculty at Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine prior to working full-time in the private sector from 1994-1997.

She received a master of public administration degree from Harvard University, a master of public health degree from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama and a doctor of medicine degree from the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Since coming to the Southwest Health District, Dr. Grant has implemented an innovative interactive worksite wellness program; presided over district restructuring to improve efficiency; overseen creation of the nonprofit Friends of Southwest Georgia Public Health; and provided guidance during emergencies such as devastating floods, tornadoes and outbreaks of disease and foodborne illnesses.


Date Posted: January 29, 2013
Fundraiser for Albany Area Arts Council and SOWEGA Council on Aging

J.D. Sumner

Albany Herald

ALBANY, Ga. -- When the organizers of the annual Empty Bowls closed up shop around 2 p.m. Monday, there was hardly a bowl left to be had.

After more than 100 people flowed into the conference center space on the ground floor of the center armed with tickets to pick out hand-crafted bowls, there were slim pickings for any late comers.

"When we opened the door at 11 (a.m.), there was a big line of people waiting to get in," Kristen Caso, a city of Albany employee and board member with the Albany Area Arts Council, said. "People know to get the best bowls, you have to get here early."

With their bowls selected, wrapped and bagged, patrons of the joint fundraiser for the Albany Area Arts Council and the SOWEGA Council on Aging sampled soup, gumbo and stews from 18 different area restaurants who had set up on site.

"It's a unique event because people have an opportunity to help two local organizations and they get to take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art from local artists," Izzie Sadler, an executive with the SOWEGA Council on Aging said.

People from all over the region brought their $20 tickets to the Civic Center on Monday to grab a bowl, have a tasty lunch and take in live music and some social time before heading back to work.

Arts Council Executive Director Carol Hetzler said that the empty bowls idea is one that is symbolic of the hunger issues facing the country.

"It's a national movement to draw attention the fact that every community has empty bowls; that there are people who are going hungry each day in this country," Hetzler said.

Hetzler's quote hits close to home at the SOWEGA Council on Aging, whose Meals on Wheels program provides 146,000 meals every year to seniors who aren't able to leave their homes.


Date Posted: January 15, 2013

Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald

ALBANY, Ga. — There are certainly larger fundraisers held here each year, but there is none with a more complete community feel than the Jan. 28 Empty Bowls outreach that benefits both the SOWEGA Council on Aging and the Albany Area Arts Council.

In its second year after a quick sellout in 2012, Empty Bowls brings disparate components of the community together in a unique event planned to shine a light on the plight of the world’s hungry as well as generate funds for the Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program and the Arts Council’s efforts to encourage, sponsor and support the arts and culture in the community.

“Empty Bowls is all about the community,” Arts Council Executive Director Carol Hetzler said. “You have two long-serving downtown nonprofits working together with local artists, local restaurants and local volunteers — and supported by individuals and civic organizations throughout the community — to provide a reminder of all the empty bowls throughout our community.

“Everyone involved has embraced the concept of giving to help others. It’s just a very positive thing.”

Hetzler brought the Empty Bowls concept with her to Albany from North Carolina, and she and Sadler, the Council on Aging’s development director, sprung the concept on the community for the first time last year. Their modest goal of selling 200 bowls (at $20 each) of soup was reached well before the day of the event.

“It went so well last year, we’re shooting to double participation this year,” Hetzler said. “We’ve got 400 tickets.”

Supporters buy an Empty Bowls bowl, each of which is created and specially designed by local artists, from the Arts Council or the Council on Aging. On the 28th, they will gather at the Albany Civic Center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and claim the bowl of their choice, which is theirs to keep. Once they have a bowl picked out, they’ll sit down to a lunch of hearty soup prepared and donated by some of the community’s best cooks.

Area artists in the Georgia Artist Guild of Albany and the Americus-Sumter County Arts Council are among those who designed, created and decorated bowls for the event. Clay Spot owner Anita Riggle, Kirby Gregory, George Carter and Scott Marini are Albany artists whose talents will be on display; while Keaton Wynn, Sam Hendley, John Lin and Sunni Zemblowsi are Americus-based participants.

A sampling of the hand-made bowls by local artists that will be included in the Empty Bowls outreach project to help ease hunger in the community are shown.

Other artists volunteering their talents are Walter Hobbs and Patrick Schloss of Valdosta and Thad Brewer of Oakfield. Golden Cuisine became the event’s first business sponsor, supplying the materials for many of the bowls.

Supporter Erica Jackson of Albany said she loves the concept of Empty Bowls.

“I feel it’s an awesome event,” she said. “It reminds us of those who don’t have bowls or anything to fill them with. That alone inspires me to want to go out and do what I can to help fight hunger. The event also allows local artists to bring attention to their talents.

“Empty Bowls is a great way to bring awareness to hunger and give back to our community. I’m proud to be a participant.”

Once ticket-holders — there will be no sales on the day of the event, and supporters must have their tickets with them — have secured their artwork of choice, they will settle in and enjoy homemade soups provided by community partner restaurants and resterauteurs including Austin’s Firegrill, B.J. Fletcher, Elements, Lemongrass, Merry Acres and Stewbo’s Restaurant Group, Our Daily Bread, Terry Lee’s Olde World Sandwich Shoppe, the Meals on Wheels kitchen crew, the Corner Cafe, Albany Technical College Culinary Arts students, the Westover High School Culinary Arts program, Viet Pho, Southern Elegance Catering, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Pearly’s Famous Country Cooking and Red Lobster.

Live entertainment will be provided by local musician Cole Hankins.

With such a wide variety of soups available, supporters will have as tough a time deciding on which soup to enjoy as they will picking out a decorative bowl. But Terry Lee’s Cowboy soup will no doubt be a favorite.

“I got involved with this because the Council on Aging is such a worthwhile agency; they really helped my mother,” Lee said. “I believe they do a lot of good in the community, and I’m more than happy to help them out.

“In some benefits like this, you find out that a lot of the money goes to administration and other costs. The Empty Bowls money goes directly to the two agencies, where it should go.”

Just what you’d expect from such a community-specific benefit.

“This will be a very casual, a very cozy event,” Sadler said. “Mrs. (SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay) Hind and I were talking about the fundraisers we have, and we agree that this is one of our favorites. It definitely takes the entire community to make it happen.

“All of the artwork and all of the food is donated, so we’ll split the proceeds from the sales and use them for our programs. Expenses are very limited; I believe of the $4,000 from last year’s Empty Bowls, we had expenses of only $140.”

Doubling available tickets and, more importantly, participation in Empty Bowls is a logical second step for the creative minds behind the fundraiser. As they speak — excitedly — about it, it’s not hard to see Hetzler’s and Sadler’s creative wheels turning.

“We’re taking things a step further this year,” Hetzler said. “There are beaucoodle ways we can continue to grow. And everyone benefits. The artists and restaurants get a level of awareness, the city and Civic Center get involved and since a lot of people are coming downtown — many who don’t usually come this way — I’m sure some of our downtown businesses may benefit.

“There aren’t many events where people from all walks of life — young, old, male female, business men and women, city employees — gather together around a table and just enjoy an experience like this. It truly is all about the community.”

For tickets or information about Empty Bowls, call the Arts Council at (229) 439-2787 or the Council on Aging at (229) 432-1124. Online, go to or


Date Posted: January 03, 2013
Decatur, Jan. 15 - Albany, Jan. 23 @ 1:30 PM

Public Hearings offer an opportunity for the public to learn about and discuss programs and services offered by the SOWEGA Council on Aging (COA).  The COA offers programs and services for individuals age 60+ in 14 counties of southwest Georgia.


January 15 - Decatur Senior Center - 402 W. Water Street, Bainbridge @ 1:30pm

January 23 - Albany Site #1 Senior Center - 311 Pine Avenue, Albany    @ 1:30pm


Date Posted: November 30, 2012
Council on Aging Presents Annual Report

Jennifer Maddox Parks - Albany Herald

ALBANY, Ga. — With much to look forward to in the future, the SOWEGA Council on Aging is continuing to provide services to the region's elderly.

The organization held its annual meeting at First United Methodist Church in downtown Albany on Tuesday afternoon.

At the meeting, Council Executive Director Kay Hind discussed the 2012 annual report, as well as the future of the organization with the construction of the new Senior Life Enrichment Center on West Society Avenue that officials held a groundbreaking for last month.

The 45,000-square-foot center, scheduled to be completed in December 2013, will serve as the hub for all of the agency's offices, programs and services. The total value of the project, once complete, is expected to be more than $8 million.

The report showed that the agency provided $10.3 million in community-based care services over the year, which are provided to individuals who are eligible for Medicaid as an alternative to nursing home placement. Of that $10.3 million, more than $7.8 million went toward personal support services.

In Fiscal Year 2012, 758 people were served through the organization's Community Care Services Program, the report shows. At the same time, there were a total of 14,464 incoming calls to the Gateway/Aging and Disability Resource Connection, 8,095 hours of in-home respite care provided, 5,626 routine visits to nursing homes conducted through the ombudsmen program and 186,144 meals delivered as part of "Meals on Wheels."

The COA also welcomed at the meeting its 2013 Board of Directors, which included the addition of one member — Ragan Fretwell — while Ladd Jordan, who had been serving as the board's vice president, is stepping down.

In addition, several clients were able to speak about what the more than 20 programs and services delivered through the agency have meant to them.

Among them was Alice Merritt, who spoke of her experience with the caregiver program that she utilized while caring for her husband, who passed away earlier this year.

She recalled being angry and frustrated, since caring for her spouse in that capacity was not the life she would have chosen for herself. The program allowed her to have respite time she would not have had otherwise.

"It gave me a chance to go to the movies, get a pedicure — and it afforded me the time to do nothing," Merritt said. "Most importantly, it gave me a platform to (express) my feelings ... and they listened to me.

"I'm thankful they stuck with me and gave me what I needed."

The council was established in 1966 and works to coordinate a system of services that promotes the well-being and independence of older and disabled residents, helping them to achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives. The organization covers a 14-county area in Southwest Georgia.


Date Posted: November 09, 2012
Tickets on sale Nov. 15, 2012


Date Posted: October 19, 2012
Look for this event again next year!


Date Posted: October 18, 2012
October 18, 2012

ALBANY HERALD, Jennifer Parks

ALBANY, Ga. — The SOWEGA Council on Aging has moved one step closer to getting a new senior center in Dougherty County.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday morning for the facility, which will be known as the Senior Life Enrichment Center, at the site of the former Byne Memorial Baptist Church property at 335 W. Society Ave.

The development of the new center, officials say, will allow the council to provide a broad scope of life-enhancing programs to those aged 50 and older in the area. The vision for the facility — which will house all of the services the council offers in Dougherty County — is to be a vibrant place where adults can come to socialize with friends, enjoy a meal and exercise their bodies and minds through fitness and educational programs.

Kay Hind, the council’s executive director, grew up not far away from where the facility is being constructed. The center’s fruition has been a vision she has had for at least 20 years.

This is going to give senior citizens a place to come in and enjoy all kinds of social events,” Hind said. “We are real proud of it and I am excited about the effort.

I’m obviously very happy about it.”

Hind said officials are hopeful that a ribbon cutting for the center will take place sometime around Christmas Day in 2013. The facilities there will include a commercial kitchen, a large dining room, fitness facility, computer lab, educational classrooms, social activity rooms and a craft room — and will serve as a hub for all the agency’s offices.

There are 14 counties under the council’s umbrella.

The total value of the project, once complete, will be more than $8 million. Yielding, Wakeford & McGee out of Albany and Flynn & Finderup out of Atlanta are serving as the architects, and LRA Constructors is the contractor for the project.

“I am excited because we are here for a groundbreaking at least 20 years in the making,” said Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard on Thursday. “We are going to be serving seniors and help them to be stronger and safer. I’m excited that there will be a center allowing social programs for us.

“This is going to be part of a cleanup effort for downtown. It takes a lot of hard work and partnership (to bring these kinds of projects) to fruition.”

Appearances were also made at the groundbreaking by Lorie Farkas, the council’s board president, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO Joel Wernick.

“(The dream of Kay Hind) has taken 20 years to take root,” said Farkas. “The dream was to create an exciting place for senior citizens to be safe. (The center) will be a gathering place not only senior citizens will be proud (to have), but that the whole community can use.”

Through the appropriations process, Bishop had a direct role in securing over $835,000 for the project.

“It was the singular vision and drive of Kay Hind that made this happen,” the congressman said. “She’s worked tirelessly and has been a passionate advocate for this senior center as long as I’ve known her.

“The dream is about to become a reality.”

Phoebe’s role in making the center come to life surfaced in 2008 when the hospital donated the former Byne site to SOWEGA for the agency to build the project on.

Wernick said at the groundbreaking that the decision to donate the land came from the recognition of the need as well as the confidence that the property would be well utilized.

“I know this land will be used for what it is intended for and that the generations after (will benefit from it),” he said.


Date Posted: August 28, 2012
Over 100 people attended this seminar. Speakers informed individuals how to detect, protect and report elder abuse and financial exploitation.

Register now!

FREE Lunch & Learn Seminar (229) 432-1124 (Space is limited)

Learn how to protect your Medicaid/Medicare benefits by detecting and reporting fraud and financial exploitation.  This event is open to anyone interested in this subject. (beneficiaries, professionals, caregivers)

Topics presented by:  Long Term Care Ombudsman, Law Enforcement, Senior Medicaid Patrol, and Adult Protective Services.


Date Posted: June 08, 2012
Seniors display art at Shades of Gold Art Show 2012

ALBANY, Ga. — Sixteen area seniors displayed their paintings and some of them took home ribbons Thursday at the 19th annual Shades of Gold Senior Art Show at The Albany Museum of Art.

The event marks the “climax” of the year, said Kay Hind, executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging, which sponsors the painters group.

“The Bible tells us we all have talents, and I hope that what I do glorifies the Lord,” said Carole Gum, who teaches painting to the group once each week. Gum insists she’s not an “art teacher,” in the strictest sense, but only volunteers her knowledge and experience to those who may be less advanced.

In 1987 she “discovered she could paint,” Gum said. She’d seen it done on television and thought it would be fun. Eventually she was asked to teach a COA seniors group. She’s done that now for 19 years and also serves as education workshop coordinator for the Georgia Artists Guild of Albany.

“The nice part about art is that it’s available to everybody,” Hind said. “This a real creative outlet for the members.”

According to Hind, even though the classes are repeated each year, many of the participants elect to re-enroll.

The Best of Show ribbon was awarded to Julia King for her entry, Bells Are Ringing; with Lenora Andre receiving first place for Colonel James G. Hampton. Lorene Gaughf took both second place and the People’s Choice Award for her painting, The Old Oaken Bucket, while Carol Stark was won third place for Don’t Even Think About It. The Merit Award was given to Juanita Chevallier for Working Late.

The competition was judged by Eric Brooks, Danny Singleton and Deborah Sanders, all of Camilla. All the judges are involved in creative professions which qualify them, Gum said.

The collection of more than 40 paintings by the Shades of Gold seniors art group is available for viewing during normal hours of the Albany Museum of Art at 311 Meadowlark Drive. The show is free to the public and will be displayed until June 28. For more information call the Albany Senior Center at (229) 435-6789.


Date Posted: June 05, 2012
Comedy Night benefits the Meals on Wheels program in Southwest Georgia. Thank you to all sponsors, talent, and guests for contributing to the success of this event, raising $42,000 for Meals on Wheels...helping us ensure that no senior goes hungry.

ALBANY, Ga. -- At 6-foot-2, it was Jeanne Robertson's height that first drew lots of attention to the then-Miss North Carolina at the 1963 Miss America Pageant.

But it was the beauty queen's wit and composure when making subsequent speeches that turned what seemed an offshoot of her moment in the spotlight into a 49-years-and-counting career that's heralded Robertson as one of the nation's most in-demand humorists.

"The week after I crowned the new Miss North Carolina (in 1964) at the end of my reign, I was asked to do three speeches," Robertson said. "I just took to it like a duck to water.

"And what started out as something cool to do for a short while has turned into a career that's been going on now for 49 years."

Southwest Georgians became familiar with Robertson's unique brand of humor two years ago when she entertained at a fundraiser for the SOWEGA Council on Aging. She was such a hit, in fact, at the sold-out show, when it came time to plan this year's seventh annual Comedy Night, a committee of Council on Aging supporters immediately insisted on a second helping.

"Jeanne's coming back to Albany by popular demand," council Development Director Izzie Sadler said. "When I met with a committee to start planning (Comedy Night) several months ago, all of the members started talking about how great Jeanne was. We decided to look into bringing her back.

"The first thing I did was call and see if she had new material she hadn't used her first time here. When I was assured she had all new stuff, I said 'Let's do it.' Before we'd even put tickets on sale, I had a list of people who'd asked me to reserve tickets for them because they'd heard through the grapevine that Jeanne was coming back."

Robertson will headline the Council on Aging's Comedy Night Aug. 7 at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. A limited number of dinner/performance tickets will be available for the 7 p.m. show. Proceeds from the performance will benefit the council's Meals on Wheels program.

The humorist's career as what she calls a "non-celebrity speaker" began innocently enough when meeting planners got wind of her talent as a convention speaker. It exploded five or so years ago when Sirius/XM radio's comedy channel sought and received permission to showcase her material.

A short while later, after Robertson posted clips from her speaking engagements on YouTube, she became something of a phenomenon.

"One of my neighbors' kids told me, 'Ms. Jeanne, you need to stay away from us. Mama says you've gone viral'," Robertson jokes. "We put those clips out there on YouTube, and all of a sudden we were getting millions of views.

"This was all amazing to me. I tell people when I started out, audiocassettes hadn't even been invented yet. I've just slowly figured out what would work for me."

In addition to garnering millions of views on YouTube and being featured 15 or so times a day on Sirius/XM, Robertson has also released seven increasingly popular DVDs.

"I'm not a comedian," she said. "I doubt that I could even tell a joke. I prefer to call myself a humorist. A humorist might be called on to make two or three specific points during a speech, while a comedian is simply out to get a major laugh at anyone's expense.

"People in Nashville have told me I should give up the convention business, that I have what it takes to sell tickets (on the comedy circuit). But I tell them 'Oh, no, that's my day job.' The convention business has been too good to me."

Tickets for Robertson's Comedy Night performance are on sale now at or at the Council on Aging's 1105 Palmyra Road offices. Information is available by calling (229) 432-1124.

General admission tickets are $30 apiece, while the dinner/performance combo tickets, which include a pre-show Italian feast at downtown Albany's Cafe 230, are $50.

"(Restaurant owner) B.J. Fletcher is giving part of the proceeds from the dinner to the Meals on Wheels program," Sadler said. "Tickets with dinner will be limited to the first 200 to purchase them."

Information about Robertson or clips of her humor are available at


Date Posted: May 07, 2012
2012 Martha Eaves Advocating for Positive Change Award goes to Lorie Farkas

Lorie has always promoted positive change in everything in which she has been involved.  She has a special place in her heart for older adults and knows the struggles that many seniors face.  Lorie takes her advocacy from the workplace to assisting the SOWEGA Council on Aging, Area Agency on Aging with its fundraising activities.  She has the unique ability to create such a vivid picture of the desperate plight many seniors face in struggling to buy medicines, food, and the other basic necessities of life.  Lorie has been writing Sowega Council on Aging’s annual holiday campaign letters for over 10 years generating thousands of dollars for services.


In addition to her letter-writing talent, Lorie was instrumental in beginning SOWEGA Council on Aging’s signature fundraising event in Dougherty County – “Comedy Night”.  Through her foresight and involvement, SOWEGA Council on Aging has raised over $158,00  allowing them to provide needed services and continuing advocacy for the aging and disability population.


Lorie has served on SOWEGA Council on Aging citizenry board for over 12 years and has been involved in many activities that improve the quality of life for the aging population. She has been president of the board of directors for the past 2 years.   Lorie has a saying that she uses frequently when speaking and advocating for positive change.  “Old Age is something everyone, no matter how rich or poor, will experience, and that everyone deserves “dignity and quality of life”.


Date Posted: May 07, 2012
Kay Hind Recognized in House of Representatives as the 2012 Distinguished Older Georgian


Click here to read article


Date Posted: March 15, 2012
Benefiting SOWEGA Council on Aging programs and services throughout 14 county service area

The  1st annual Juleps, Jockeys and Jazz event will be on May 5, 2012 at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club from 5:00-8:00 PM.

Tickets are on sale now.  $75.00 per person (Includes a complimentary memory photo, hors d'oeuvres, entertainment and more!)

ONLINE: check out the EVENT page on this website, click the "BUY TICKETS NOW" button to purchase securely online, or pay cash or check at 1105 Palmyra Road (229) 432-1124.

This is a "Kentucky Derby Event" with "Derby" themed activities, hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, Jazz music performed by Dr. T. Marshall Jones Jazz Quartet, "betting" games, and more...a FUN night benefiting a great cause!

Click here to view event details


Date Posted: September 30, 2010
The "Older Worker Network Conference" was held in Savannah, GA on Sept 10, 2010.

Older Worker of the Year
Lucille Crouch, from Albany, Ga, was named the Older Worker of the Year. Mrs. Crouch has been employed as the Meals on Wheels Coordinator for the SOWEGA Council on Aging for 37 years. She is the epitome of what all employees, young and old, should strive to be. Lucille is responsible for the entire process involved with the home delivered meals program. She sets up meals for packaging, takes and records food temperatures, and packages the meals. The Meals on Wheels program is dependant on volunteers to get the meals to the client’s homes in a timely basis and many times there are new volunteers who do not know the route. She greets and trains volunteers and is always ready with a map and detailed directions and phone numbers because she knows just how valuable that the volunteers’ time is. She is on time every day, organized, enthusiastic and is always willing to give assistance when needed. She is responsible for over 150 home delivered meals per day, while also caring for her husband who has been ill for many years and must have 24-hour care.


Date Posted: September 30, 2010
Older Worker Network Conference Announces J.R.'s Loving Care as Employer of the Year.

Employer of the Year
J.R.’s Loving Care Services provides quality and reliable home care services to the elderly and frail individuals who desire to maintain his/her independence while continuing to live in their own homes. J. R.’s Loving Care has been a repeat employer with Experience Works for over 6 years. They target the older worker for new hires because the older employees relate to the clientele, appreciate their job and are dependable and honest. The average length of employment for these mature workers is 4 years and 30% of employees are over the age of 55. J.R.’s Loving Care offers employees service training 3-4 times per year, gift certificates, flexible scheduling and insurance.


Date Posted: September 08, 2010
PROFILE Magazine features Southwest Georgia Council on Aging in its July/August 2010 edition.

In its July/August 2010 edition, Profile Magazine chronicles the growth of the SOWEGA Council on Aging from its beginnings as as fledgling organization with an annual budget of $8,000 to an organization that now employs 145 full- and part-time employees and operates on a $6.5 million annual budget.

Read the entire article (click here)


Date Posted: May 01, 2018





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