Friday, November 19, 2004

Senior Connection offers Festival of Trees

Guest opinion by Brenda Shappee

Senior Connection director

That's right ... Christmas is right around the corner. Blaine County Senior Connection is busy putting together the final touches for the 2004 Wood River Festival of Trees. The Festival is for the entire valley, young and old.

The event is being coordinated by Jim and Shirley Spinelli, who did an outstanding job last year. This year the honorary chairperson is Peter Gray of Ketchum. Peter has brought his years of Wood River experience and knowledge to the festival to assist in making the festival bigger and better than ever before.

The Wood River Festival of Trees is the major fundraiser for the Blaine County Senior Connection and the KidsShop. The center's mission is "Service to Seniors." The center served 8,765 hot nutritious meals to seniors in 2003 and transported 4,876 seniors to various placed in and out of town. The Center has implemented an Outreach Program, directed by Kim Coonis. This program offers in-home assistance for seniors who need special services within their homes which will allow them to remain at home rather than entering a nursing home or assisted living facility. The center receives a total of $23, 538.20 from the Federal Nutrition contract program with the Area Agency on Aging. This amount does not begin to cover the cost of food, supplies and staff needed to serve the seniors utilizing the program. Seniors are not charged but are given a suggested donation for each meal they receive. Needless to say, the suggested donations do not cover the actual cost involved in the preparation and delivery of meals or the services and programs provided. Other services provided are transportation upon request, activities, medication assistance, insurance assistance, caregiver groups, fitness program, music program, poetry group, a newly formed Red Hat Society, trips, notary service, in-home care and chore service, assistance with living wills and health care power of attorney.

The center traditionally has been a place primarily where seniors gather together for socialization and food. This is changing. The center is focusing on a restructuring of the programs and services. It is necessary that the center identify the needs of the baby boomer generation and of those seniors who do not currently participate in the center. It is important for Blaine County Seniors to understand that they do not have to come for lunch to participate in the center and its programs and services. The center needs volunteers, new ideas, and a stronger coordination of programs with other community service organizations. The center is in the process of identifying short- and long-term goals for the center and needs input from seniors in the community that currently do not utilize the center.

The Festival is an opportunity for the community to participate in a wonderful Christmas party. The Festival begins Thursday, Dec. 9, with the Gala Opening at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. There will be food and drink, entertainment by the Bill Innes Trio, Silent Auction, Money Tree with a $5,000 gift certificate prize, beautifully decorated trees, dancing and an overall a wonderful event to get everyone into the holiday spirit. Please join us for the Gala. There will also be a Winter Wonderful for Children at the KidShop in Ketchum. The festival hours will be during the Thursday night gala, Friday open at noon, and Saturday open at noon for viewing and purchase of trees and wreaths.

Watch for more details. We still need volunteers to assist at the festival. If you would like to volunteer please call 788-3468 for more information.

Help us to help the Senior Citizens of Blaine County as well as the KidShop. Bridging the generations is important to our community. Be involved.

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