By: Thomas Gambill
This week the Spencer Frye Legislative Research Fellows met with Eve Anthony and Erin Beasley, the CEO and Director of Operations respectively, of the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA) to learn more about the aging adult community within the city of Athens and the public services provided to them. Engaged in all levels of advocacy, the ACCA works on a variety of issues for the aging community, including hunger, transportation, housing and healthcare. The ACCA provides a wide array of services from adult daycare, in-home care, and personal assistance to meals, oral health access and countless other programs.
While the ACCA thrives with their current resources, Anthony and Beasley informed our fellows of the challenges they still face. The council relies on funding from the federal, state and local levels. The biggest encounter the ACCA face here are budget cuts, as their funds often compete with youth programs. They combat these reductions through personal donations on the local level. However, when these are not enough, an ACCA Advocacy Group encourages policymakers and legislators to support higher funds toward programs for the advanced age.
Anthony and Beasley mentioned an often overlooked problem to handling aging issues: ageism. Ageism, the prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age, is often unintentional yet places a harsh effect on the aging population; whether that be through policy, elderly care or simple day-to-day interaction. The two say that through information and understanding, we can all recognize that the aging population is still worthy of our respect, admiration and care.
While the ACCA does amazing work now, the future is looking even brighter for the organization. The council is looking to revolutionize the way Athens interacts with its aging community members with programs in development for elderly transportation and student-elderly cohabitant living. Anthony and Beasley are hopeful that their organization will soon be able to actively address all the issues of the advanced age through programs that benefit the various types of people that they service. All in all, our fellowship team was thoroughly impressed by the services that the Athens Community Council on Aging provides to the local elderly community. It is our hope that the ACCA, and other Athens organizations like it, will continue to thrive and provide valuable contributions to the well-being of the aging population within the Classic City.