Somerset County's seniors centers will soon be getting a funding boost for COVID-19 mitigation, programming and other improvements. Gov. Tom Wolf released $2 million last week for all of the state's 400 Area Agency on Aging senior centers and satellite centers.
James T. Yoder, administrator for the Area Agency on Aging of Somerset County, said that while this funding from the Pennsylvania Lottery was released as competitive grants in the past, it's now evenly distributed by the commonwealth to all AAA senior centers.
"Under (COVID) they are giving all centers the same," Yoder said in an email to the Daily American. "We have (seven) centers and each one got the $4,752."
In total, Somerset County's senior centers will receive a combined $33,264.
The funds can be used for COVID-19 mitigation, capital improvements and renovations, programs and services, technology, nutrition services, marketing and outreach, and rent and utilities.
Christine Saylor, senior center services director, said that Somerset County's seven centers might have different needs for the money, but most of it will be used for COVID-19 protective wear, hand sanitizer, programming, activities, health seminars, speakers and possibly appliance upgrades.
"We hope to get a few (seminars) in this year," she said. "It's hard to find them in our area, but we hope to get a few."
Saylor said that the funds might seem like small amounts, but every bit helps.
Yoder agreed. In the past, he said, when the grants were competitive, the senior centers used to be able to purchase big-ticket items.
Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres noted that many senior centers are operating under limited hours, virtually or not at all during the pandemic.
"Given these unfortunate circumstances, participants have missed out on congregate meals and in-person social or educational activities along with the camaraderie and support that these centers provide,” Torres said.
“Because of the challenges that we have experienced for two years now, we’re pleased to once again be able to allocate the funding to help all eligible SCCs and their affiliate Satellite Centers, throughout the commonwealth, sustain their operations. ... This approach provides money to all of the centers to help strengthen their overall ability to persevere and continue to offer services.”
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This article originally appeared on The Daily American: Senior centers AAA Somerset County, PA grants