The Porter County Aging and Community Services team marked another year of serving the community as well as spotlighted new board members at its annual meeting.
In the last year, the PCACS transportation program had an average 92 trips per day totaling 179,723 passenger miles during the 248 days of service. The buses utilized 38,616 gallons of fuel at a cost of $124,819.84 and 239 new clients used the county-wide door-to-door service.
PCACS Executive Director Bruce Lindner said with a reduction in federal funding the number of buses on the roads has been lowered to 31 per week from 35.
“At our next board meeting in September, we will be looking at the transportation budget very closely to see if more service cuts need to be made. We have asked the county for more money, but the chances for additional funds seem very limited,” he said. “We may have to tough it out with the money that we have.”
Beyond the transportation service, PCACS assisted community members with additional programs including Section 8 Housing, which served 273 clients, and the nutrition program, which served 9,299 meals.
Through the United Way Emergency Assistance Grant, 182 community members were helped with medical, housing, transportation and utility needs. The program offers a way to help those who are facing an emergency situation by providing funds directly to the provider of services.
The Energy Assistance Program that ran from November 2013 to May 2014 assisted 1,223 individuals. The income-eligible program helps qualified participants who need assistance with their energy bills during the winter season. When participants qualify for a determined amount, the payment is electronically paid to the appropriate energy company.
Fund-raising efforts continued to remain strong with another successful year for the NAP tax credit program, Lindner said.
“We have been successful for the last six years reaching our goal of selling all available tax credits,” he said. “We have been awarded credits again this year in the amount of $8,835 - a 12 percent increase from last year’s $7,752.”
Four new board members were also in the spotlight at the annual event: Rondi Wightman, Cathy Ellis, Diane Bates and Kimberly Wiseman. Wightman, adjunct professor at IUN, and Ellis, marketing director at Life Care Center, also work together after resurrecting the Duneland Seniors group based out of Porter.
“I am very excited for this new adventure,” Ellis said.
“I have had a great experience since I joined the board,” Wightman added.
Bates, who worked at the steel mill for many years, said she has joined the board to stay involved in the community. She also serves as president of the Steel Workers Association of Retirees.
Wiseman is branch manager at the Portage location of the Porter County Public Library and has cultivated the library outreach program for seniors.
“I enjoy bringing the library services to seniors in their homes,” she said. “By serving on the board, I wanted to get more involved in the community and with seniors.”
The PCACS offices also continue to provide space for the Friendship Senior Activity Center, which gathers every week for activities and camaraderie.
Group leader Arlette Sigler emphasized the importance of having a place for the 15 members to get together.
“We thank you … we stick together as a little group and love each other,” she said. “We recently had a member turn 90 years old … we are just like family.”
PCACS’ mission is to extend a helping hand to seniors, those who are disabled and low-income residents by providing services to improve their quality of life, including transportation, nutrition programs, energy assistance and activity centers.
For more information, visit www.portercountyacs.org.