WASHINGTON COUNTY – Activities have been back in full swing at the Washington County Council on Aging (WCCOA) following last year’s pandemic closures. The senior center is offering new programs, but its mission has remained unchanged since its inception in 1973: “To make life better for seniors.”
WCCOA hosts a number of services and programs for residents ages 60 and older, including home delivered meals, exercise classes, housekeeping, and art classes. Services such as housekeeping are available at little to no cost to participants depending on income level, but on-site programs, such as exercise and art classes, are free. Executive Director Tayler Amerson says many have a misconception of what WCCOA does.
“We are here to help, not only our clients, but their caregivers as well,” said Amerson. “We help everyone navigate the process for getting assistance.” Amerson added the organization also helps seniors stay in their own home by connecting them to resources which make living at home with services an alternative to transitioning to a nursing home.
“We are here to help regardless of abilities, disabilities, income, or age,” she said. “We just want to help.”
WCCOA Community Coordinator Kim Drummond states there are currently approximately 80 participants in services and another 40 who take advantage of the on-site programs – but there is plenty of room for more.
“We really care about the seniors in our county and want to offer them a wide range of activities to enjoy,” said Drummond.
The main center in Chipley offers lunch every day at 11:30, along with the various activities throughout the week. Chipley’s Day Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, where the community’s seniors are invited to visit with each other, or just relax.
Lynn Ray says she and her mother, Janice Bush, come play bingo every Thursday.
“We love it,” said Ray. “It makes our day every time we come. We get to spend time with our friends, and we love that part of it.”
Bingo enthusiast Jo Peterson says in addition to providing fun activities, the senior center helps provide a respite her daughter-in-law, who is her caregiver.
“It is great up here,” said Peterson. “It helps me and my family, especially my daughter in law, Judy.”
The county has several other sites available as well; however, the days of operation are limited to one day a week as follows: Ebro – Located at Ebro Town Hall (projected to re-open in August), from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays; Wausau – Located at Wausau Town Hall, 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays; Greenhead – New Vision Methodist Church, 2661 Blocker Church Rd., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays; Sunny Hills – Sunny Hills Community Center, 4083 Challenger Rd., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays; Caryville (projected to re-open in August) – Caryville Civic Center on Highway 279, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Vernon – Vernon City Hall, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays.
Seniors can take advantage of day trips. Past outings include attending dolphin tours in Panama City Beach. An extended trip to Kentucky is also in the planning stages, set for next April. The six-day, five-night trip will include visiting Noah’s Ark Encounter and Creation Museum and the Underground Railroad Museum.
Drummond says the highlight of the year for the center is the Festival on the Boulevard, held each November at the Chipley site. The event features music, food, crafts, and fun for people of all ages. Drummond said food and craft vendors are needed to help fill the remaining spots for the event and interested vendors can contact the center to secure a spot.
Drummond adds that WCCOA would like to add more programs to the list of activities, but there is a shortage of activity leaders.
“We need more volunteers,” she said. “If anyone is interested in teaching or heading up any kind of activity, we would welcome them to come volunteer.”
For more information on services, programs, volunteering or becoming a vendor, contact Drummond at 850-638-6217 or visit the main center at 1348 South Boulevard in Chipley.
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