Miles for Meals Walk continues raising money for area seniors

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Henry County Senior Services Director Diane Reed says supporting programs geared toward older residents is something more people should do, regardless of age.

Participants at the 2014 Miles for Meals Walk begin their fundraiser walk at the Jason T. Harper Event Center. Photo by Mickie Jackson

“We’re all aging,” says Reed. “We’re all getting older. Most people have a parent, grandparent, neighbor or somebody at their church that they see experiencing some issues due to aging. I would just like to encourage everyone whether it’s through our program or something else, to do something to help.”

Reed is working to drum up support for the 21st annual Miles for Meals fundraiser walk, scheduled for May 2 in the Jason T. Harper Event Center at Heritage Park in McDonough. Registration will begin at 9 a.m., and the walk will start at 10 a.m.

The walk is sponsored each year by the Henry County Council on Aging as part of Older Americans Month. Funds from the event will benefit programs for senior adults in the county.

Reed says the walk provides a way for people of all ages and abilities to lace up their shoes for a good cause.

“Most fundraisers are runs now, and not everybody can do a run,” says Reed. “So many of our senior-center clients like to participate and are able to do so. A lot of our volunteers are seniors themselves, and they can participate in this event.”

Currently, Senior Services operates centers in McDonough, Stockbridge and Locust Grove, with a fourth one being planned for the near future in Hampton. Two of those centers were built as part of SPLOST I. Reed said the Council on Aging paid for much of the furnishings and decorations for the centers, as well as sewing machines and other needed supplies that wouldn’t be paid for by the county.

Last year’s fundraiser generated more than $50,000 for Senior Services programs in Henry. Reed says that amount is not enough to support the budget for her department. The vast marjority of last year’s funds, she says, went toward feeding clients, and $5,000 was allocated for costs related to in-home care.

Reed has worked with Senior Services for 25 years, spending the last two years as director of the department. She says one reason the walk is successful each year is because of its accessibility to the community.

“Ours is different in that we keep it as an easy one- or two-mile walk,” she says. “The focus is on allowing all levels of ability to participate and show support for the program. We usually have between 200 and 250 people there.”

Ann Marie Quincey has worked with Senior Services for 6 1/2 years and now serves as the department’s director of special projects. She says 185 seniors in Henry receive meals daily through Meals on Wheels, most of which are distributed by volunteers.

“On a monthly basis, we give out about 1,100 cans of Ensure and provide about 1,100 hours of in-home personal care,” says Quincey.

She says support from local residents and businesses is vital to what the department does for the area’s senior population.

“Just about all of it is community sponsors,” says Quincey. “Outside of the fundraising aspect, I think it really helps to promote the community’s awareness of what Senior Services does on a daily basis. When we get sponsors, it keeps that partnership between local businesses and Henry County Senior Services intact.”

For more information on the walk, call 770-288-7000.