Shrinking federal funding and an aging population have prompted Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging to take its fundraising efforts to a new level.
On May 7, the tri-county agency will be host to a benefit in Topeka to continue to support the nearly 9,000 seniors it serves.
Financial help couldn't come any sooner, leaders say.
Last May, Jocelyn Lyons, JAAA team leader, said the agency learned it was losing thousands of dollars in travel reimbursement. The travel costs supported case managers' numerous drives to seniors' homes to support the agency's goal: keeping seniors comfortable in their homes. About 178 seniors are served by the case management program. Four case managers for the county can rack up about $7,000 a year each in travel costs.
"We were totally shocked," Lyons, 55, said. "We need to have face-to-face contact with our customers. We need to be in their home to truly assess their environment and how we can best serve them."
The theme of the benefit is "There's No Place Like Home."
"It just seemed natural since we're in Kansas," said Marsha Henry Goff, chair of JAAA board of directors, of the theme that alludes to "The Wizard of Oz." "But that is the goal of the agency, to keep people in their homes."
The Topeka-based agency helps coordinate and provide funds for senior services in Shawnee, Jefferson and Douglas counties, which in turn provide programs such as Meals on Wheels, Kansas Legal Services or Midland Care Connections. The benefit will also help the agency's Guardian Angel Fund. The Guardian Angel Fund helps low-income seniors by providing money for necessities that range from insulin to walkers.
"We know sometimes nursing homes aren't the only answer," Goff said. "Some are forced there prematurely who don't really need to be there, but they don't have another choice."
The benefit is from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. May 7 at Great Overland Station, 701 N. Kansas Ave. in Topeka.
About 300 people are expected to attend. Tickets cost $10 per person and can be purchased by calling (785) 235-1367 or 1-800-798-1366.
Whether people want to dance to the Kings of Swing band, sit back and tap their toes or enjoy a catered meal from Aboud's at Western Hills, "they'll have a great time," Goff said.