Senior Services Celebrates 40 Years of Service to Alexandria
By Carla Branch and Rebecca Newsham
On May 17, 1968, 17 visionaries came together at the offices of The Alexandria Gazette to create an organization that would help senior citizens find jobs. On May 17, 2008, The Board of Directors of Senior Services of Alexandria and more than 250 well-wishers came to The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Old Town to honor five of those leaders: Nelson Greene, Sr., Nancy Kelly, Mary Ann Ormes, Lewis Stearman and William Vosbeck.
“I have known and worked with each of these individuals for many years and am proud to be here tonight to recognize their leadership and Senior Services’ many accomplishments over the past 40 years,” said Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. “The organization has made a real difference in the lives of many older Alexandrians and, I am certain, will continue to do so.”
The five founders spoke to the crowd at The Founders Ball in a video tape. “I was a volunteer, working with a group of social service organizations who met to discuss issues about once a month,” said Kelly. “After one meeting, a lady named Dorothy Lentz came up to me and told me about her dream to start an organization to help senior citizens find jobs.
“I had a lot of good friends and they agreed to help us start an agency. Former Mayor Chuck Beatley was particularly helpful and there were so many other people who got involved,” Kelly said.
Those founders were the Who’s who in Alexandria, then and now. They were political, religious, business and civic leaders and they came together to meet a need.
“Some people in my church were concerned that the City wasn’t doing right by the elderly so a group of us got together to do something about it and here we are today,” Greene said. “Things have changed over the past 40 years and that’s partly because of Senior Services.”
Stearman got involved because of his work at The Gazette. “Marion Galland called and asked if The Gazette would support the efforts of this group of people who wanted to start an organization to help senior citizens. I told her that of course we would and that’s how I got involved,” Stearman said. “Now, exactly 40 years later, we are here to celebrate Senior Services accomplishments. I am very proud of all of the work this organization does, for those of us who are still here and those who are not.”
What began as a small employment agency for senior citizens has grown and prospered. In 1968, the organization had a budget of less than $15,000. Last year, SSA’s budget was approximately $850,000. Last year, Senior Taxi provided 13,946 trips to an average of 800 clients per month. The DOT program, which provides transportation for mobility-impaired individuals who are unable to use public transportation, provided 46,643 trips to an average of 1200 clients per month. In 2007, 72 volunteers in SSA’s Meals On Wheels program delivered 43,712 meals to an average of 91 clients per month.
The program that began it all, Employment Counseling, continues to serve older Alexandrians. Last year, SSA placed 52 individuals in jobs, serving 181 clients altogether, in a variety of ways. SSA also placed 28 individuals in jobs as in-home care workers and the organization’s job counselor worked with 83 different employers.
SSA’s most recent program addition is their money management counseling. Last year, their part-time money management counselor worked with 21 clients, providing a variety of money management assistance.
For more information visit SSA’s website at www.alexseniorservices.org