By Ansley Prior
Bath-Dewitt Connection staff writer
Thanks to a new outreach project called MiCafe, Bath’s elder population has increased access to social services previously out of reach.
MiCafe, Michigan’s Coordinated Access to Food for the Elderly, sponsored by Elder Law of Michigan, provides a range of services including onsite food assistance, cash assistance, medical assistance, state emergency relief, and a program called Adult Home Help, which provides money for the disabled to hire someone to help them do what they no longer can.
Paula Clark, retired director of the Clinton County Department of Human Services, realized Bath was lacking the resources elders need to access these services. With the help of the Building Stronger Communities council, DHS, and volunteers from the community, MiCafe has doubled the number of seniors receiving assistance.
“Only 31 people over the age of 60 were receiving assistance,” Clark said. “We realized this was a problem because over 50% of Bath’s residents are senior citizens.”
According to Troy Feltman, superintendent of Bath Charter Township, lack of awareness and education, as well as transportation were the main reasons for the gap in those over 60 receiving care, and those not.
“Paula Clark and I sat down with the Building Stronger Stronger Community Council and said there have got to be people in the community that need help, now, why aren’t they getting any?” Feltman said.
The program is held twice a month at the Bath Senior Center, where volunteers are on hand to help fill out paperwork and answer questions.
“We help them do the applications, but we are only the middle men,” Clark said. “DHS makes all the decisions on what people are approved for.”
Participants must bring the necessary materials to fill out the paperwork so an appointment is recommended.
“Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are actually helping,” Feltman said. “Based on the number evidence we’ve collected we are.”
According to Feltman, Bath Charter Township has begun working with DHS and other social agencies to expand educational and direct service programs to people and families of all ages.
“Currently, we are in the evaluation process of this expansion,” Feltman said. “We hope to have these services available to all residents and families before the end of 2011.”