The Area Agency on Aging coordinates a wide range of services and programs throughout the community. These community-based programs include access and advocacy services like specialized transportation, non-criminal legal services, employment counseling and older worker programs, veterans' services, health information and screening programs through the Prime Time Health program, and Senior Centers. Senior Centers located throughout Reading and Berks County provide an assortment of social, recreational and educational activities and volunteer opportunities. Centers are operated under contracts with Berks Encore, Boyertown Area Multi-Service, Inc., Family First Resource Center and the Hispanic Center. All centers serve nutritious noontime meals on weekdays (meal reservations must be made in advance), and some centers have a special breakfast program on selected days throughout the month. Senior centers also serve as the base where meals are packaged and sent out with volunteer drivers for the Meals on Wheels program.
Senior centers are focal points for the senior community, hosting a variety of special programs throughout the year, providing information and access to the entire network of aging services, and giving older adults the opportunity to serve their communities through volunteer efforts.
The aging services system provides many other volunteer opportunities for seniors, as well as those who want to work with seniors, including programs through the United Way Volunteer Center, APPRISE health insurance volunteers at Berks Encore, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries Volunteer Home Care and Ready Ride programs, Volunteer Ombudsmen at through the Office of Aging and others. The Area Agency on Aging also operates the Berks County Foster Grandparent Program, which provides lower income seniors an opportunity to volunteer with children having special needs. Foster Grandparent volunteers receive a small stipend to offset out-of-pocket expenses.
In partnership with our contract agencies and other community organizations, the Area Agency on Aging sponsors and supports numerous special programs throughout the year such as: the annual holiday dinner for the elderly, held on Christmas Day at Berks Encore, the annual Senior Festival of the Arts each spring, Prime Time Health events coordinated by Berks Encore, health fairs, workshops, and seminars. The Area Agency on Aging has a special mandate to ensure that the needs of all older adults in our community are being met. To accomplish this, the Area Agency on Aging continuously monitors service usage, periodically conducts surveys and community needs assessments, and holds a public hearing each year to discuss plans for the coming year. The public hearing provides an opportunity for seniors to make their needs known and to have an impact on the services and programs provided throughout the community.