Resource Network a hit at senior wellness expo

Photo Provided During the Steubenville YMCA senior wellness expo Beth Rupert-Warren, resource coordinator for the Jefferson County Resource Network, demonstrates the program’s ability to connect people with services.

STEUBENVILLE — The senior wellness expo at the Steubenville YMCA saw some heavy foot traffic May 22 and the Jefferson County Resource Network saw a good opportunity to build relationships with the county’s agencies and connect people with the services they need.

Developed and offered through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center (JCESC) and funded by the Jefferson County Commissioners, the Resource Network has developed a website and an app as part of a one-stop hub to help the public navigate the many resources on offer.

JCESC Resource Network Service Coordinator Beth Rupert-Warren greeted the seniors as they made their way from table to table and demonstrated the site and how people with different needs might easily utilize it.

Curious seniors learned how they could select the type of service needed and find numerous area agencies and providers.

The site lists close to 70 topics, including food assistance, home health care, legal assistance, transportation assistance, housing and veterans’ services. A click on any one of them will bring up providers and their contact information.

Members of other agencies represented at the expo have worked with the Resource Network. They said the JCESC-managed program has a lot to offer.

Frances Gundrum, a case manager with the Society for Equal Access, attends meetings of the Jefferson County Family and Children First Council and is interested in working with the Resource Network.

“I’ve seen that it’s a vital organization,” she said. “Our agency covers anybody with a disability of any age, any disability, and seniors as well.”

Gundrum said her work includes transitioning seniors out of nursing homes and inmates into life outside prison, with the goal of keeping people living independent in their homes.

“Any kind of a partnership is good. Knowledge is good. Whenever you partner with other agencies, you find out things. You’re able to give and collaborate in the best ways to help people.”

Also represented was Jefferson County Adult Protective Services, a member of the Resource Network. Investigator Marie Holt said the network has been valuable in the mission to investigate allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“We also do self-neglect where we’re just helping seniors living in their home and connecting them with the resources they need to safely live in their home as long as possible,” she said.

“We help hook them up with services,” she said. This could include meals, transportation and connecting seniors with agencies that will help them reach appointments. She said a common issue among rural communities is isolation, and her agency has been working with senior centers to provide places close by to meet friends and build a support group. She said the Resource Network has proven a useful hub of information.

“It also puts everything in one place so you’re not constantly looking in different directions.”

Judy Owings, health educator with the activity and resource center Our Place of Jefferson County Inc. is another community partner.

“We work with them because we come across a lot of people that need services, and so we network with them,” she said, adding the Resource Network has been a big help. “Just different resources people might need at a specific time.”

YMCA executive director Marci Crawford was excited by the number of visitors becoming acquainted with the many agencies and services in Jefferson County that are geared toward seniors. Crawford said the participation of the Resource Network was welcome and the program fills a valuable role.

“Everybody touching base with everyone,” she said, adding the program helps in “connecting the dots” so that the community can better come together.

Rupert-Warren said many showed an interest.

“It’s been a very good turnout. People have been very engaging, asking questions, and we’ve been able to answer their questions and provide them information on how they can get into the Resource Network,” she said.

The expo also included service providers that had been unaware of the Resource Network. One such group, the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania, may attend the next public meeting.

Foundation CEO Christine Haythorn said they serve 23 counties around southwestern Pennsylvania, areas with an older population and environmental risk factors.

“We are now taking steps to expand our services in eastern Ohio,” she said and noted the importance of access to exercise programs, support groups and educational content. “We would love to be more involved with this area.”

Haythorn said the Resource Network could be the perfect partner to help find people who could benefit from the foundation’s services.

She said Parkinson’s Disease can carry a stigma. Symptoms include anxiety and depression and those with the disease risk becoming reclusive.

“Partnering with the Resource Network here will enable us to identify folks and help them get over that stigma and receive services that will help them feel better. The only way to delay the progression of Parkinson’s Disease is through exercise,” she said, adding the abundance of connected organizations is an excellent reason to collaborate.

The Jefferson County Resource Network will hold its next public meeting at 10 a.m. June 14 in the Wintersville UMC Center of Hope, 702 Main St.

For more information about the Resource Network, visit jcresourcenetwork.org or email info@jcresourcenetwork.net.


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