Each year during the month of May we celebrate Older Americans Month. This month, which is observed nationwide, is a time to celebrate seniors in our lives and acknowledge the contributions they make to our communities. The 2019 theme – Connect, Create, Contribute! – truly captures what FSS is all about. We celebrate our seniors each and every day throughout the year, but May allows us to go the extra mile in highlighting some of our most amazing seniors, the STARs (Seniors Together After Retirement) in the congregate program. As the 2019 Older Americans Month theme describes, this STARs program “connects seniors with friends, family, and services that support participation, creates by engaging seniors in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment, and contributes time, talent and life experience to benefit others.” We agree completely when the Administration for Community Living states, “By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks and lives.” When Fayette Senior Services first began 40 years ago, one of our main focuses was the Congregate program. It all began in a little white house, located just around the corner. The STARs program was designed to provide a social, emotional, and physical outlet for aging adults – focused on reducing food insecurity, promoting socialization, and increasing the health and well-being of aging individuals. Since those days 40 years ago, the program has grown exponentially. It has become so much more than a place to just spend your morning, it has flourished into an image of family. Step into the room and you’ll be filled with joy so quickly you’ll hardly believe it. You’ll experience warm welcomes, witness glowing smiles, and enjoy watching a group that truly cares about each other. FSS Care Manager and STARs Coordinator Iris Harris explains how special the programs really is. “We have participants from all walks of life, from different continents, and various life stages and circumstances. They all come together and have become a family that cares for one another and enjoys being together. We have witnessed so many transformations when new participants join us with hesitation, and within a short time they are actively involved and encouraging other new people to join the group!” Access to services like this help to delay the onset of adverse health conditions that result from poor nutrition or sedentary behavior. For seniors who meet the criteria to participate in this irreplaceable program, it truly makes a world of difference for them. One of our STARs participants recently shared, “If it weren’t for Fayette Senior Services congregate program, I know I’d be gone by now from loneliness among other things.” We all can truly wish upon these shining STARs as we look up and admire them through all walks of lives! We have something special here, and we aren’t afraid to shout it from the mountain tops! For more information about this program, please contact Iris Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-461-0813.
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