The Adams County Office for Aging, Inc. (ACOFA) is a non-profit organization in Gettysburg, PA that provides numerous services to nearly 5,000 Adams County senior citizens annually.
The ACOFA became a 501(c)(3) private, non-profit agency in 1976, along with 51 other Agencies on Aging in Pennsylvania. The agency was established through the federal Older Americans Act that mandated services for adults over the age of 60.
Executive Director Vicki Huffaker, who has been employed with the ACOFA for 33 years, said, “Our main mission is advocating for older people. We want to keep people in their homes as long as possible. Our nursing homes are very good, but seniors want to maintain their independence and dignity in their homes.”
Given this mission, one of the most highly utilized services is in-home care management, which is used by approximately 400 individuals on a regular basis. Other resources provided by the ACOFA include meal delivery, personal care services, caregiving, emergency response services, protective services, care assessments, adult day services, senior centers, transportation, Medicare counseling, tax assistance, and legal services. Most of these services are offered to senior citizens at no cost to them, due to federal, state, and private funding.
COVID-19 changed but didn’t stop them
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff of the ACOFA “never stopped working,” said Community Services Director Linda Thompson, “Our Executive Director updated phone and computer equipment and agency policies to allow staff to do a combination of in office and remote work, so we never lost contact with our consumers.”
There were also alterations to the way services were offered to senior citizens in Adams County. “Our daily hot home-delivered meals shifted to a once-a-week delivery of frozen meal boxes to reduce exposure for volunteers and consumers,” said Thompson.
Following guidance that allowed for the safe operation of senior centers after a three-month closure, “Senior centers re-opened with limited attendance and modified programming. This allowed people to get out of their homes and see their friends safely until the vaccine became available,” said Thompson.
The ACOFA operates with assistance from their committed staff members, in addition to the contributions of volunteers. Some of the office’s volunteer opportunities are meal delivery, senior center assistance, senior ranger corps, Medicare counseling, tax assistance, chore services, ombudsman, and serving on the Board of Directors or the Citizens Advisory Counsel.
Interested volunteers should, “contact the office and say they want to get involved,” according to Huffaker, “Right now, our biggest needs are delivering meals and tax services.” She also suggested that anyone who wishes to use any of the services offered should contact the office.
Anyone who wishes to contribute to the office but does not have the time to volunteer may also donate in their own name or in memory of someone else. These donations help to support the resources provided to senior citizens through the office.
Huffaker believes the services offered by her office are important because, “Someone has to be their voice. We protect their voice as senior citizens because they have so much to share.”
To contact the ACOFA, people can use their website, https://acofa.org, or they can call the office directly at 717.334.9296.