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There are many senior opportunities in Lewisville and Clemmons

By Larry Stombaugh
For the Clemmons Courier

While many seniors in the Clemmons and Lewisville communities take advantage of services in Winston-Salem, there are a growing number of possibilities for them without having to leave their communities in western Forsyth county.

The Age-Friendly Forsyth Community Engagement Council has organized several community focus groups over the last several months to gather information about concerns regarding seniors and available services. Martin Slominski represents Lewisville on the council, and he reported that two issue-specific teams have been identified by AFF — services awareness and access, and home repair/modification needs, two initiatives that are being proposed.

Slominski noted that although Lewisville does not have a specific senior center or outreach program, the town does encourage its residents to participate in the various town council meetings and committees so that the town can receive input about needs for seniors. He indicated that Lewisville has been proactive in extending sidewalks from the town center to encourage walking, and it has built exercise stations in Jack Warren Park.

He also noted that many churches in Lewisville offer programs and services for seniors including weekly classes and support groups. Churches in the community also participate in programs that support seniors such as Meals on Wheels, the Samaritan Kitchen, and the Red Cross. Some churches also identify and address specific needs such as home repair and lawn maintenance.

An exciting plan for the future for Lewisville is a new community center with work beginning this summer and a projected completion date of the end of 2021. Slominski noted that although the center is not specifically designed for seniors that it will likely attract programs and activities for older residents.

Debra Perret represents Clemmons on the AFF Community Engagement Council as a member of the Leadership Team. Like Slominski, she noted that many seniors are not aware of available services. “There are a large mix of services available,” she said, “and these services need to be communicated.” She went on to say that needs for everything from fans to transportation needs can be met, but that many seniors are hesitant to ask for assistance. “A lot of elderly people need help,” she noted, but they are embarrassed to communicate personal needs. “There is an aching need to discover these needs and to become sensitive to them, and to solve them without embarrassing anyone.”

Perret also noted that resource guides are helpful, but that seniors need to know how to access them and use them. She indicated that anyone who receives a resource guide, such as the one published in this edition of the Clemmons Courier, who is not elderly, should pass it along to a senior who can use it.

She has come away with many personal insights after attending Age-Friendly Forsyth community meetings. “There are a lot of socially isolated elderly people. You know this is true, but you really don’t realize how significant it is until you see the numbers,” she said, referring to data that has been obtained by research from the AFF initiative.

Sandi Scannelli, the president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation, noted that although there are challenges facing seniors in our community, there is a strong value system in place for volunteering in the Lewisville and Clemmons communities to work with older residents. She sees this as an opportunity for individuals to assist seniors with tasks such as yard work and driving to appointments and for being involved in activities such as book clubs, cards games, and educational activities.

She also indicated that the local leadership is an asset for dealing with issues affecting seniors. “The leadership within our communities is impressive,” she said. “If a problem is identified and a few leaders step in and assemble a team, our communities tend to step up with solutions.”

In reference to the Forsyth Age-Friendly initiative, she said, “I am thrilled there is an intentional effort to better understand the challenges of aging in our communities so that our local leaders can inspire and focus energy around sound solutions.”

Scannelli also noted that many churches in both the Lewisville and Clemmons communities offer programs and services for seniors.

Clemmons United Methodist Church offers a monthly meeting and luncheon that features a guest speaker as well as an Alzheimer’s-Dementia Caregiver’s support group. Barbara Turner, who oversees the older adult ministries at the church, coordinates the monthly luncheon meetings, and she is excited about those that are scheduled for the next three months. The meetings will be held on the fourth Monday of each month. Topics that will be covered are Alzheimer’s/Dementia in January, fraud and scams targeting seniors in February, and investment planning related to IRAs in March.

Clemmons First Baptist Church also sponsors several programs for seniors. The JOY (Just Older Youth) Club has a luncheon and program each month as well as some day trips. There is also a group of ladies who meet to quilt on Tuesday mornings, and there is a walking ministry that meets in the gym everyday that includes some seniors.

Centenary United Methodist Church sponsors a program called FAT (First and Third Tuesday) that meets at noon on those days. The contact person for anyone interested is Louise Davis at 336-766-6128.

The Jerry Long Family YMCA on Peace Haven Road hosts the Silver Sneakers program for seniors. This is a health and fitness program for individuals who are 65 and older. It is available through many Medicare plans, and it has become a popular way for seniors to become involved in an exercise program at a minimal cost. There are also a number of classes and programs offered for seniors at the YMCA.

Clemmons is also fortunate to be home to the Clemmons Food Panty that serves about 750 families and 2,800 individuals each month. The pantry is currently located on Old Glory Road, but a new facility is being built on the property at Clemmons United Methodist Church where the panty was started by a Sunday School class in 2004. Once the new building is in place, the pantry has plans to expand services to include educational programming designed to help address the root causes of hunger in the community. The panty serves all ages in Forsyth County with many clients being seniors. A large portion of the 300 volunteers are senior citizens as well. Despite the impressive number of currently active volunteers, more individuals are always needed to perform duties such as stocking shelves, doing pickups and deliveries, and serving clients directly when the pantry is open. Anyone interested in volunteering at the pantry can contact Syd Cuningham at 336-766-8117.

The research by the Age-Friendly Forsyth initiative as well as the active involvement of individuals and organizations within the communities have the ultimate goal to make Forsyth County more age-friendly, and a place where people can live fulfilling lives.

Debra Perret offered her personal perspective on this after her experience volunteering for the Age-Friendly initiative as well as caring for elderly individuals in her own family. “I like the Chinese idea,” she said. “The older you are, the more valuable you are.  As you become older, you become more of a treasure.”