ABINGDON - The Virginia Department for the Aging will host an open seminar to take the pulse of local issues from 8:45 to 10:45 a.m. on May 22 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.
VDA Commissioner Julie Christopher will lead the agency's "Community Conversations on Aging" initiative to exchange information between local providers and residents and state officials.
The program is designed to provide opportunities for local business, education and legislative leaders to address the needs of the aging population by sharing information and soliciting public feedback.
Information gathered at the sessions will be used by the agency to help identify, fund, coordinate and deliver future services and programs for the aging in Virginia.
"It is essential that we engage in this dialogue so we can move forward to advocate for the development of aging services," Christopher said in an agency press release.
"I invite local government, nonprofits, families, individuals and organizations of all types to let me know their local priorities for aging services. It's time to take the â€˜aging pulse' in all of our communities. I am committed to meeting the challenge of shaping realistic but meaningful expectations for the development and funding of coordinated services and supports for our â€˜booming' population."
The community "conversations," she said, "will allow us to identify needs at the grass-roots level, in the very back yards of our aging population where the need is most evident."
Marilyn Pace Maxwell, executive director of Big Stone Gap-based Mountain Empire Older Citizens Inc., the nonprofit organization that serves a broad range of needs of the elderly in Lee, Wise and Scott counties and the city of Norton, said the program offers an opportunity for the region's citizens to express their strengths and concerns.
"The seminar on older persons provides a wonderful opportunity for such dialogue to take place," she said.
"We have much to offer policymakers and definitely want to be an important part of the â€˜Community Conversations on Aging.' We are deeply grateful for Commissioner Christopher's leadership and for her inclusion of all Virginians in this important dialogue," she said.
For more information on the state agency or the upcoming seminar call 1-800-552-3402. For local area agency on aging information call (276)523-4202 or 1-800-252-6362.