By Ann Marie Shambaugh
Legacy Fund has spent the last four years expanding the Youth Assistance Program, which aims to prevent at-risk teens from making frequent appearances in the Hamilton County legal system. With that initiative now showing positive results throughout the county, Legacy Fund is turning its resources to another group in need: low-income seniors.
Officials form Legacy Fund and Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County gathered March 30 to announce Reaching Resources, a new initiative designed to identify seniors in need and connect them to the many local nonprofits and programs available that provide assistance. The program will launch in Sheridan, where 68 percent of seniors qualify for help, and expand throughout the county in the next five years.
“We’re going to start (in Sheridan) with our coordinator and work with the whole community,” said Julia Lowe, vice president of the Shepherd’s Center board of directors. “This isn’t just a thing where we’re going to go in and fix everything. This is the community working together with all of the resources. We’re just going to be that one-stop-shop for the senior to connect to the resources.”
The program will be run by Shepherd’s Center, a nonprofit that works to support independent living for seniors. Legacy Fund, a Central Indiana Community Foundation affiliate serving Hamilton County, is providing up to $50,000 annually for four years to launch the program. The goal is for Reaching Resources to become self-sufficient in that time.
Although Hamilton County has the highest per capita income in the state, 30 percent of its seniors live on less than $15,000 per year, according to Shepherd’s Center. Many organizations exist to assist these seniors, but often the seniors don’t know they are available.
“We think many of these problems are related to isolation,” Legacy Fund President Terry Anker said. “These are folks that can be completely isolated and none of us know. We live in a time where people live scattered from their families.”
Shepherd’s Center has an employee dedicated to identifying and reaching out to these seniors, but the nonprofit is relying on other community members for help. Program organizers are asking first responders, church leaders and others who may work with the elderly to help connect them to Reaching Resources.
For more information, visit shepherdscenterofhamiltoncounty.org or call 317-674-8777.