SHE GIVES BACK

Heather Terry strives to help North Fulton seniors

Nonprofit offers multitude of services

Abby Breaux photography
Abby Breaux photography
Abby Breaux photography
Zulma Caldeiro, senior artist at the Roswell Senior Center, loves their amazing art program.
Abby Breaux photography
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By CANDY WAYLOCK
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• TOPS (Transportation Options for Seniors) — This is a medical transportation program designed to get seniors in North Fulton to and from their medical appointments.

• GATE (Get Around Town Easily) — This is another transportation program that utilizes vouchers to facilitate travel pretty much anywhere around town. The client purchases a $100 transportation voucher book for $25. Clients use this service to travel to the grocery store, pharmacy, hair appointments, church and to visit with friends.

• Senior Centers — The group operates four senior centers in North Fulton – Alpharetta, Roswell, Milton and Sandy Springs. The senior centers are a great place to meet new friends, engage in fun activities and receive a hot lunch. Transportation can also be provided to and from the centers.

• Care Management —The group has four care managers on staff that provide personal assessments to certify seniors for services, coordinate care to meet their needs and to help them live as independently as possible.

• In-Home Services — Arrangements can be made for personal care, homemaker services and respite care for seniors in need and their caregivers.

• Meals on Wheels — This is available to anyone age 60 and older who resides in North Fulton (Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Mountain Park, Roswell and Sandy Springs) who are unable to prepare meals for themselves or who are having trouble affording groceries.

• Meals on Wheels for Pets — Yes, that is correct! Pet food is expensive and heavy. Often times a pet is the only companion our clients have. Senior Services doesn’t want anyone to give up their furry friends because they are having trouble affording pet food.

Senior Services North Fulton Community Relations Director Heather Terry is taking on a large undertaking.

“Typically, when people think of the North Fulton area, senior hunger does not come to mind,” Terry said. “The truth is one in eight seniors in North Fulton worry about where their next meal will come from.”

The public is usually surprised to learn the nonprofit’s volunteers delivered over 30,000 Meals on Wheels to people’s homes in 2016, Terry said.  Additionally, they served over 19,000 hot meals at their four senior centers in Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell and Sandy Springs.  All in all, the group satisfied the food need for about 780 seniors in North Fulton in 2016.

“But we know there are more people out there that don’t know about our services,” Terry said. “Our job won’t be done until we identify every senior in need and eliminate senior hunger in North Fulton.”

And that’s just one program offered by Senior Services. The group also has transportation, centers and in-home help.

Terry took on this large responsibility only nine months ago. She was working in the senior care industry doing marketing and sales for nine years before she received a call out of the blue to interview with Ron Harlow, executive director of Senior Services North Fulton. Harlow was looking for someone connected in the community that could help find more seniors in need and, as the programs grow, help with fundraising.

“I had been working in sales for 18 years, I had never worked for a nonprofit before and I really didn’t think it would be a fit for me,” Terry said. “I could tell right away Ron had a passion for taking care of seniors and that his team at Senior Services North Fulton was doing something very special. After the interview I called my husband from the parking lot and told him I was taking the job. After 18 years of selling to people, I was moving to an agency where we give to people.”

Many of the group’s clients don’t have family in the area to support them, Terry said, and often the contact they receive from Meals on Wheels volunteers might be the only human interaction they have all day.

“We hear from our clients all the time that our volunteers are angels,” Terry said. “Yes, they are showing up at the door with a meal, but it’s more than just a meal. It’s someone to talk to, it’s someone that is there to make sure they are okay and it’s a friend that cares. I got involved because seniors are some of our most vulnerable members in the community. I want to do my part in making sure they are cared for and not forgotten.”

In addition to emotional support, the seniors often need help financially.

Hundreds of Baby Boomers are turning 60 every day in Georgia and senior need is increasing every day, she said.

“Most seniors are on very small fixed incomes,” Terry said. “Their social security checks are not increasing each year, but the cost of their healthcare and medications are. Can you imagine having to decide between paying for your diabetes medication or buying food?  Senior Services North Fulton takes some of the pressure and anxiety off the seniors we support with our various programs. It’s amazing what a little added support can do for someone. A prepared meal each day, or having transportation available can be a game changer for so many that want to remain in their homes, or for those who cannot afford to move to an assisted living community.”

To donate or learn more, call 770-993-1906 extension 223, or visit ssnorthfulton.org. ■

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