It is hard to believe that we are 40! The office has transformed from a staff of one to that of 21 (including office staff and meals drivers, combined county and contracted individuals), and a budget of less than $20,000 to one that exceeds $1 million. Although the programs have changed over the years to meet the need, the dedication and compassion to ensure support to the county residents older than 60 continues to this day. We will celebrate all that we have done and what we now do at an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday in our office at 113 Park Place in Schoharie.
The Office for the Aging was started by a group of individuals who felt that the needs of older citizens would be better addressed if there were an organized entity that could partner with an already established nonprofit with support from the county Board of Supervisors. The program director, Ethel Benninger, worked with the local Community Action Program, who at the time was running a pilot congregate meal program. The CAP agency had worked for several years to form several clubs within the county and united them under the incorporation of the Schoharie County Council of Senior Citizens.
A request was made to the Board of Supervisors, and the Office of the Aging opened its door in July of 1973. They worked hard the first year to determine the needs of older adults and determine how to address them on a modest budget. They moved into a room in the old Lark Street School for $100 a month. They took over the meal program, serving lunch as well as hosting monthly activities.
Over the years, several programs came and left. The department helped start the transportation program that has now grown into a public transportation system within the county. The department had worked to bring in revenue from sales of crafts in the local SCCAP stores and looked to the state office for additional revenue and programs. Slowly each year, the department grew and the services for older adults were coordinated with other organizations in the county.