CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Commission on Aging (COA) Executive Director Stephanie Lawson said that for the last two years, she has felt right at home leading the charge in advocating for seniors in the community. Along with the help of support staff in the main office and seven full-time senior center directors, the COA makes a huge impact on our residents in their golden years.
The COA is primarily funded by the Cullman County Commission, Alabama Department of Senior Services, North Alabama Regional Council of Governments and the United Way of Cullman County; local churches, businesses and individuals help bridge the gap for smaller needs.
“We LOVE our senior community. We want to do anything and everything we can to show our love and support. Whether that’s through nutrition, socialization, even referring them to resources that can help them as well,” Lawson smiled.
The COA is well-known for its outreach events, and it operates seven full-time centers in several communities throughout the county, covering bases from Colony to West Point (see complete list of full-time centers below). At these full-time centers, attending seniors can expect free hot meals as well as typical activities like bingo in addition to fellowship.
For those homebound seniors who cannot travel, the COA also operates a Meals on Wheels program, which is currently serving around 140 clients a day, but, Lawson said, that need is much greater.
“That’s just due to our steady volunteer base,” she explained, noting the stringent regulations for route delivery and difficulty finding more volunteers.
Lawson took a moment to really brag on the senior center managers, noting how their work is an invaluable asset to the COA at large; in addition to managing meals and activities and assisting with major events, center managers help connect the seniors they serve to the organizations that can help with their day-to-day needs.
“I have to give credit where credit is due. Our center managers work hard every day to maintain those relationships,” explained Lawson. “I’ve got the best staff in all the world. Without their support, without them taking my craziness and just running with it, it wouldn’t be what it is!”
Volunteers also make the magic happen at the COA, with Lawson noting the many partnerships she has been able to grow with other local nonprofits such as the Cullman County Center for Developmentally Disabled, the United Way of Cullman County and numerous local churches that donate their time and resources to make the COA’s outreach events special for seniors.
The COA is always seeking additional volunteers to help serve the senior population, and opportunities vary from donating bingo prizes to helping serve lunch at a center. If you or your business would like to volunteer, call 256-734-1241 or visit www.co.cullman.al.us/coa.
Full-time senior centers are located in Colony, Crane Hill, Cullman, Fairview, Hanceville, Holly Pond and West Point. There are part-time centers in Baileyton, Center Hill, Cold Springs, Dodge City, Good Hope, Hill Top, Jones Chapel, New Canaan and Simcoe.
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