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Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County, Maryland, Inc

To better acquaint our members and the greater community with our grantees, we are highlighting some of the nonprofit organizations that have received WGC grant funds. This quarter, we reached out to Melanie Cox, President and founding member of Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County, Maryland, Inc.

Please introduce yourself. What is your role at your organization and how long have you been with the organization?

I am Melanie Cox, President and a founding member of Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County, Maryland, Inc which was formed in 2014.

What is the mission of the organization, and what personally moves you about that mission?

Our mission is as follows:

“The mission of Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County Maryland Inc. is to be a nonpartisan public voice for the needs of low income and poor senior citizens; to work to improve the delivery of existing services; and to facilitate and support partnerships and collaboration between government, for-profit and non-profit organizations to meet current and projected needs thereby reducing the burden on governmental agencies.”

The last 30+ years of my 50+ years nursing career were with several different types of organizations providing services for seniors. This combined with my experiential knowledge gained with my mother who had multiple sclerosis created an awareness of the need for and passion for identifying systems to address the multiple needs of seniors. Seniors. How fortunate I am to still be able to utilize the knowledge gleaned over those years in the work of Advocates. Advocates approach as reflected in our Mission Statement is to look at systems, services and process which then impacts individuals on a broader scale.

What are the most significant challenges that the organization is facing right now? What are the most significant challenges faced by the clients/populations that you serve?

Non-profit organizations are facing a reduction in financial contributions from individuals especially since the COVID epidemic. Changes to the tax regulations have reduced the amounts of individual contributions. Individual contributions are a large source of our revenue. Another challenge our organization is having enough volunteers to participate in our various efforts as we are an all-volunteer organization.

These organizational challenges correspond to increasing needs of our low-income seniors. The most recent ALICE reports indicate at last 40 percent of our seniors are below the sustainability levels in Frederick County. Rents in the County are going up as are other housing costs such as utilities. There is a lack of affordable housing options for seniors and as our senior population ages there is an increasing need of supportive housing. Frederick County has been working over the past 9 years to improve the services and systems available for our seniors and the new program recently announced by the County Executive of a Service Coordination program is evidence of the types of services needed to support especially our low-income seniors.

Currently there are multiple organizations and agencies who provide various types of support for seniors. There needs to be better collaboration between all of these organizations and systems to more effectively address the various needs of our burgeoning senior population.

What is the nature of the Giving Circle grant that you received in our last grant cycle, and what impact will it have on women and their dependents in Frederick?

Our grant from the Giving Circle is to provide electric lift chairs for senior women who have been assessed by an Occupational Therapist who has determined that the individual needs the device for safety. Not only does this improve the quality of life for the individual it can also reduce down the possibility of injury to the partner or care giver who is having to lift the person from the chair. These chairs vary in price depending on the needs of individuals but can range from $1000.00 to $1500.00.

Do you have any specific stories that you can share with us that illustrate what you are doing in the community?

Currently there are five women on the wait list for chairs. One woman lives by herself in the basement of a family members home. Unfortunately, she has just been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Her chair will provide her with a safer way of getting in and out of her chair and also conserve her energy levels in doing this. This is just one of the devices that will assist her to remain as independent has she can for as long as possible.

Is there anything further that members of the Giving Circle can do to help, in terms of volunteering, in-kind donations, etc?

We need more advocates speaking for seniors and systems to support seniors. We need more individuals to become knowledgeable about such things as affordable and supportive housing, what they look like and what they can accomplish. There are many voices in our County for our children. There are now more seniors than school age children. We need more voices speaking for these individuals also.

We need assistance in educating all levels public officials on senior needs and issues and in identifying best practices in other areas that we can built on. All volunteers are welcome!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Advocates for the Aging is very thankful for this grant and we appreciate the work of the Women’s Giving Circle in assisting the individuals of Frederick County.


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