BERWYN – With uncertainties in federal and state funding, Solutions for Care, a nonprofit group that provides services to area seniors, is finding fun ways to raise money.
To kick off its 45th anniversary, the organization invites the public to join the Salute to Seniors celebration July 15 at Lavergne’s Tavern in Berwyn. All of the money raised will support the many programs the organization offers to seniors in Berwyn, Cicero and Proviso Township.
The afternoon event will feature craft beer tastings, appetizers, raffles and a photo booth.
“Fundraising is new for us because we’ve always depended on state and federal funding,” said Christine Flynn, director of development and community engagement at Solutions for Care. “Now with the budget impasse and the federal government attempting to cut funds, we’re trying to be proactive and raise money so we can continue to help people in need.”
Solutions for Care served about 13,000 people in its five programs in 2016. The biggest program is the Aging and Disability Resource Network, which Flynn described as “an older adult network hub” that provides information on federal and state programs and where seniors can get help in applying for services like Medicare, Medicaid and transportation programs.
The Adult Protective Services Program investigates cases of elder abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. Flynn said the organization has had more than 200 cases since October 2016. The Community Care Program provides seniors with in-home help with non-medical chores, like laundry, cooking and personal hygiene.
The two smaller programs are caregiver support, which provides respite and support groups to those who are caring for a loved one, and Chore, which provides similar services as the Community Care Program to individuals who don’t qualify for that program.
Flynn said the overall mission of Solutions for Care is to keep seniors living independently in their homes for as long as possible.
“As adults age, they need more help, and individuals who can stay in their communities tend to live longer, have a better quality of life and feel like they can maintain independent choice and dignity,” she said. “If individuals are forced into a nursing home prematurely, they decline faster physically, mentally and emotionally. Our services allow them to maintain quality of life. When programs are cut, they’re more likely to end up in nursing homes.”
The agency began in 1972, and it originally was known as the Berwyn-Cicero Council on Aging. A group of local entrepreneurs formed the organization after seeing the area didn’t have a lot of resources for aging adults.
The group, which originally met in local store fronts, moved into its own building in the late 1970s. However, about 12 years ago, the agency sold the building, and it is now located in the MB Financial building on Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road.
Solutions for Care started with just a handful of employees, but it has grown to 35 full-time staff members. The client base also has grown, and the agency serves more and more people each year, Executive Director Sarah Saenz said.
“People are living longer, and it’s not uncommon for us to work with people in their 80s who are being cared for by their children in their 60s, so the family dynamic is changing,” she said. “Our services are essential to helping area seniors. There aren’t any other agencies where people can go that do what we do. We help people who don’t have anything or don’t know where to go.”
Solutions for Care also works with area park districts that provide classes and other socialization programs, like dancing and bingo, to keep seniors active and engaged with their community.
“We’re making a positive difference in the lives of our clients. Every case makes a difference, no matter how small. Our staff listens to seniors and advocates for them,” Saenz said.