Government Funding Cuts Leave Agency Serving 171 Clients With One Full-Time Staff Member

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The Payson Gila Aging Services, which has been in existence for 15 years, is going through a financial crunch.

Inge DeVeaux, case manager for the Payson Gila Aging Services, travels throughout the county to provide service to seniors in need. She is the only full-time employee for the nonprofit agency and has just hired a part-time worker to help her out.

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Inge DeVeaux, case manager for the Payson Gila Aging Services, is the only full-time employee for the nonprofit agency.

The agency provides help to homebound seniors, including meals on wheels, housekeeping and personal care.

"We are trying to do everything possible to keep people in their houses," said Susan Savern, office assistant, who works 25 hours a week. "We want to keep them independent longer."

As the staff of Payson Gila Aging Services, the two women take care of 171 people.

"We don't have enough funding (for more staff)," she said. "Susan (and I) try to run everything."

She said she made a presentation to the old Payson Town Council to no avail and is thinking of making another plea to the new council.

DeVeaux said one of the goals is to get volunteers who can help homebound seniors, like someone who could fix a leaky roof.

More importantly, she said, would be finding volunteers to drive clients to doctor appointments and grocery shopping.

The Payson Gila Aging Services assesses its clients in person every three months.

She said the services are necessary, but conceded they do not have enough funds to continue to provide them because the state budget has been cut "so drastically."

There are seven seniors who are on the waiting list for housekeeping, a few of whom are bedridden or confined to a wheelchair.

She cannot get housekeeping for an 83-year-old man who is dying from colon cancer.

"I need more help," DeVeaux said. "I am frustrated, frustrated and frustrated."

In order to get more funds, she has sent letters to state officials, including Gov. Janet Napolitano and Sen. John McCain imploring them to fund agencies like the Payson Gila Aging Services.

"We don't want to complain about this, but we cannot be ignored," she said.

"If it wasn't for social services like case management and the home-care provider agencies, we would be helpless, discouraged and unable to stay on our own homes," she wrote in her letters.

If Payson Gila Aging Services can't help, there are other programs in the area for homebound seniors, such as Elder Builders. Under this program, volunteers give their time to visit homebound seniors for conversation.

"People are very lonely," DeVeaux said. The goal is to try to take them out to lunch every two to four weeks.

There are other volunteers under the Elder Builders program who provide repairs in homes while there are others that provide transportation.

With her workload almost too much to handle, DeVeaux said Elder Builders volunteers Trish Hofer, Dee Nieman, Dick and Vicky Burkhart, Ruth Hill, Ken Huffer, Norm Liesener, Peggy Smith and Doris Lyon cannot be thanked enough for the services they provide.

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