Engaging the community

James HowellStaff

April 6, 2013

Mayors Dale Baldwin and Dana Tugman approved a resolution to recognize Ashe County’s local national service program, Appalachian Senior Programs, for its for its continued effort improve the community by aiding seniors.

“I think we feel very honored to be part of this community,” said Sherry Lambert, project assistant at Appalachian Senior Programs.

The two major projects that Appalachian Senior Programs is involved in from day-to-day is the Foster Grandparents Program and Senior Companions Program.

“This is what we do everyday; it’s our main focus,” said Tammy Taylor, the director of the Foster Grandparents Program.

The Foster Grandparent Program allows seniors over 55 to work with children in schools and the Head Start program, sharing their experiences and knowledge as they model good behavior for the children.

Last year, 105 volunteers served over 400 children in Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Watauga and Wilkes counties through this program.

With the Senior Companions Program, rather than assisting children, seniors work with their peers who are also over 55-years-old. According to Taylor, this program serves seniors “who wouldn’t otherwise get attention,” like the blind.

Aside from the day-to-day services provided by Appalachian Senior Programs, ASP also gets involved in several other projects throughout the year.

For instance, for the past 10 years during the holiday season, Appalachian Senior Programs has coordinated Project Star, an anonymous gift drive for seniors in need.

Groups that work with the elderly in the county submit a list of names of seniors in need, along with a list of gift ideas for each person. Those groups include the Department of Social Services, Ashe Really Cares, Ashe Outreach Ministries, Spruce Hill Apartments and Mountain Living and Mountain Village.

Once the names are submitted to Appalachian Senior Programs, each name is assigned a number so the senior can remain anonymous. Each number, along with an outline of gift ideas, is printed on a cut-out paper star. When the list of seniors who apply for the project is finalized, the cut-out stars are placed in different locations throughout town so citizens can chose a star a donate gifts to that senior.

According to Taylor, about 200 stars are placed throughout the county each year.

Appalachian Senior Programs is also involved in an annual food drive in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

To honor all of these achievements and the hard work of Appalachian Senior Program’s employees and volunteers, West Jefferson’s and Jefferson’s mayors signed a resolution recognizing programs like ASP.

The resolutions read:

“I, Dale Baldwin, Mayor of West Jefferson, N.C. (and Dana Tugman, Mayor of Jefferson, N.C.) do hereby proclaim April 9, 2013, as National Service Recognition Day, and encourage residents to recognize the positive impact of national service in our city, to thank those who serve; and to find ways to give back to their communities. Appalachian Senior Programs FGP/SCP is one of these National Programs and have been providing services to our county since 1980.”

“Our goal is to help others, we never think about getting recognized,” said Debbie Wellborn, SCP director at Appalachian Senior Programs.

Appalachian Senior Projects is sponsored by Appalachian State University, and receives funding from the Ashe County Board of Commissioners, United Way and donations from local sources.