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Legacy Link celebrates 20th anniversary
Program aids seniors with care, support
Legacy Link employees Dorothy Suchke, right, and Kristin Krantz make their way through the food line Wednesday morning during the agency on aging's 20th anniversary luncheon at their Oakwood offices.

Legacy Link celebrated 20 years of operation Wednesday as employees and volunteers came together for pizza, snow cones and a chance to look back at the success the program has achieved in two decades.

Pat Freeman, founder and CEO, walked through the room, giving the microphone to others at times and taking those in attendance on a history tour of the program that offers a variety of services for senior adults.

Among the highlights, a total of 625 people have received service through the Community Care Services Program, which helps elderly or impaired people in the organization’s 13-county service region with personal support services such as adult day health, caregiver support, respite care, home delivered meals, emergency response systems and personal care. “625 being kept out of a nursing home because you case managers and RNs do what you do,” Freeman said.

Another 359 people have been in the Source Program, which serves people who qualify for nursing home care and receive Supplemental Security Income through Social Security.

“That’s 359 more families that have somebody at home instead of going to a nursing home,” Freeman said.

Another program provides help to grandparents who are raising grandchildren because of issues that keep the parents from raising them. Officials said 94 children are being cared for by grandparents in the program.

“Most of those grandparents raising their grandchildren, some of (the children) were deposited on the front steps of the porch because drugs are involved,” Freeman said.

At least 1,300 served through Georgia Cares, in which staff and volunteers help people with Medicare eligibility and helping people figure out insurance plans and other benefits.

“That saves families a lot of money,” Freeman said.

The program has gone from five employees to about 100 in 20 years and has another 300 volunteers.

An Employment and Training for Mature Workers program is working to place those age 55 and older in public and nonprofit agencies helping to train them to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Looking back, Freeman said she is amazed at the scope of Legacy Link today.

“I thought we would be here and would be larger, but I had no idea that we would have the expansive programs that we have now and would have done so well,” Freeman said.”That’s been a wonderful blessing.”

She said she believes the greatest impact of Legacy Link is two-fold.

“One is being able to give information to families that need to know about services any age wherever they live anywhere in the country,” she said. “The other thing is helping people to be able to stay out of nursing homes and being able to stay in the community. That’s special.”

Steven Leibel, a new board member, told the employees and volunteers he is “proud to be part of this organization.”

“Our mission is that we look to the future, and the future is as we age, we want to be treated with dignity and respect and what you do is to allow people to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.

Freeman said the program is continuing to grow 20 years later even though other programs with good programs closed down.

“A lot of programs have come and gone in that time because sometimes you write a grant application and it’s just for two or three years,” she said. “Then you cry a little bit and it ends and you can’t get the money anymore.

“Right now we have more employees than we’ve ever had because we’re doing more services than we ever have,” she added. “I am just so grateful for county commissioners that help us do all of this. If they didn’t give us money every year out of their budget, we wouldn’t be able to be here.”