Most people know that the Lafourche Area Council on Aging (COA) offers transportation and commodity distribution service to the elderly of the parish.
Many older members of our community (and their families) know and rely on COA to provide them with a means of getting to their doctor’s offices and treatment centers and to bring them daily meals.
But these important services are not all that COA goes about doing for those who cannot do for themselves.
COA’s Executive Director, Charlene Rodriguez, offers a more indepth look into some of the other things which the Council on Aging offers to senior citizens in Lafourche. Although her COA office is in the Mathews Government Complex, and the services that COA provides are primarily funded by a parishwide millage, Rodriguez says COA has nothing to do with the parish.
“We have our own charter,” she said.
The Lafourche Council on Aging, Inc. is in fact a legally separate, non-profit, quasi-public corporation. COA received its charter from the governor of the State of Louisiana in 1973 and incorporated in 1974.
Rodriguez said COA has 85 employees, about 30 of which are full time workers.
“We have offices within centers throughout the parish, like the Gheens Community Center, the Larose Civic Center, and the Golden Meadow center in the Oakridge Park, where seniors can come in to apply for our services,” she said.
There are also other centers in Thibodaux, Raceland, Lockport, and Cut Off, which provide treadmills, wii games, quilting, bingo, noon meals and an open door to any senior who wants to join.
On a daily basis throughout the parish, 350 meals are served to the elderly in their homes. Also, 50-70 more meals are provided at the centers.
Some of the services that older citizens can sign up for at these centers are personal care programs, disease prevention and health promotion, and assistance in applying for Medicaid, Social Security, and Food Stamps.
COA’s personal care program provides bathing, grooming, dressing, and oral hygiene services to needy recipients.
The disease prevention and health promotion program is designed to improve the health of the elderly thru group exercise, music, art, and dance movement therapy.
“May is Old Americans Month. We will be holding a prom at the VFW in Larose which includes a meal and dance, door prizes, and a raffle,” said Rodriguez. “We also provide respite care relief for anyone who cares for an elderly person. If you need a break, we come in for 4 hours every other week. We have outreach workers who can provide referrals to other state and local services,” she said.
These do follow up service as well.
COA also provides errand services, energy assistance, wellness assessment, and homemaker services.
The cost to provide these and many other programs is about $2.3 million per year. Most of COA’s income is derived from its 1.98 property tax millage, but it does receive state grant money and miscellaneous income from public and private donations.
In 2014, nearly $700,000 came from the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs.
In addition, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development provided about $74,000 for purchase of vehicles used by COA.
“Our goal is to make sure everybody knows what we do for the elderly. Mostly it is by word of mouth,” she said.
Rodriguez invites people to drop by the centers and witness the services that COA provides.
“You can say a lot about us, but until you see what we provide, you don’t really know,” she said.
More information can be found on their website at www.lafourchecoa.org, or by calling (985) 532-0457 or (888) 879-4400, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Fri, April 10, 2015
by Buster Avera, Contributing Writer