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story.lead_photo.caption The Area Agency on Aging office, 905 W. Grand Ave., will host a 40th-anniversary celebration from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday. - Photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record

The Area Agency on Aging of West Central Arkansas Inc. will host an open house Thursday in celebration of its 40th anniversary of being a nonprofit organization and providing care for seniors in Garland County and west-central Arkansas.

"We are so honored that we are able to have served Garland County and the surrounding area for so many years. The work our agency does serving seniors, caregivers and others in need is close to all our hearts and that is reflected in the care that is provided by our employees every day," Barbara Flowers, executive board director, said in a news release.

The event will be held at the organization's main offices at 905 W. Grand Ave. from 10 a.m. to noon. The event is open to the public. Ambrosia Bakery Co. is catering the celebration, which will be a laid-back "social event," said Billie Holsomback, the organization's director of marketing and community affairs.

AAA board members will be in attendance, the organization's CEO will speak and members of The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce will conduct a ceremony, she said.

Services offered to seniors, caregivers and family members by the organization include in-home personal care, case management, long-term ombudsman, caregiver support, senior center activities and senior companions.

"It's important to the community because we serve so many seniors in the community, and we are a resource for all of the seniors in the community as a private nonprofit. The only service that we charge for is our in-home program because it helps support our other programs," Holsomback said.

The organization services approximately 400 seniors per month, she said, noting several employees have worked for the organization for nearly the entirety of its 40 years as a nonprofit.

"We have aides that have been with us probably 38 years, and we actually have a manager that has been here 35 years," she said.

The West Central office services Pope, Yell, Johnson, Conway, Perry, Montgomery, Hot Spring, Clark and Pike counties, and has offices in Hot Springs, Russellville, Morrilton, Clarksville, Malvern and Arkadelphia. Across the U.S., there are over 800 AAAs.

The seven other regional AAA locations in the state also celebrate their 40th anniversaries in 2019.

All eight AAAs in the state were originally part of eight Planning and Development Districts, or PDDs, in Arkansas, according to the AAA's website.

"After a few years, however, it was clear that the AAA's with the emphasis on social and human services, required different administrative styles than the PDD's whose purpose centered on economic development." The state Legislature approved legislation in 1979 making the Area Agencies separate entities from the PDDs, and the law was signed by then-Gov. Bill Clinton. "Each of the eight AAAs in Arkansas was separately incorporated as a nonprofit agency under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code," the website said.

Each center is operated by a local subcontractor but remains monitored by the AAA.

The first project and primary objective of the AAA of West Central Arkansas was to establish local senior adult centers throughout the region to provide nutrition and socialization. Malvern's center was the first of these to be established.

"We just hope that everyone will come out and help us celebrate. We are so proud of our history, and we love the work that we do. We want to share that history with the community," Holsomback said.

Local on 10/19/2019

Print Headline: Area Agency on Aging celebrates 40 years

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