Seniors Gather at Kallet Civic Center in Oneida for Senior Information Fair

By Nick Will, Oneida Dispatch

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ONEIDA >> More than a 100 people turned out in the first hour of the inaugural Senior Information Fair heldWednesday at the Kallet Civic Center in Oneida, with more coming in throughout the day.

Annette Foley from Clinton said that she received a notice in the mail about the event and figured it would be a good place to just spend a morning.

“I think I learned something at every booth,” Foley said. “While I may not need some of the services that were presented, it definitely will enhance my future choices. It was an excellent way to spend the morning.”

Foley said that even though many of the groups were from the Oneida area, most of the information they were supplying applied to any senior citizen in the state.

More than 40 vendors from various businesses and organizations through Madison and Oneida counties provided information for senior citizens who may not have known what options were available to them. Services ranging from banking, social services, senior housing, finance and insurance were being covered.

“I really wanted to create this event for seniors, so they could get any help and useful info they may need,” said Sen. David Valesky, D-53, who helped organize the event. “There is a bit of everything here for them, from insurance information, to information on their taxes, veterans’ benefits and long term care.”

Valesky said he saw similar events in Onondaga County in the past and wanted to provide a similar service in Madison and Oneida counties.

“I learned about a lot of services that are available for people after retirement,” said Ross Miller.

A Hamilton resident, Miller recently retired from Colgate University. He said this information session was a great idea for people in his position and others who may be older and need more help. He said the information provided will really help him make more educated decisions now about banking, Medicare and some services he didn’t know were around.

“I recently retired and there’s a lot I didn’t know about,” Miller said. “Often, retirement is something that you just embark upon. There really isn’t a guide for this. I think that this event was great idea to come out of Valesky’s office.”

“We felt the need to reach out to the residents of Madison and Oneida counties and let them know what resources are available to them in their area,” said Shannon Holmes, program director at the Parkway Center in Utica. Holmes said the center offers plenty of activities and opportunities for senior citizens and is currently looking at expanding into areas outside of Utica, possibly working with the Madison County Housing Authority on a new project in Verona Beach.

Patricia Hoffman of the Oneida Community Mansion House said she was really pleased with the turnout of the event. She was there representing the Mansion House and giving out information about tours and exhibits, as well as looking for new tour guides for the Museum.

“This event is great. There is such a variety of services provided by these organizations,” Hoffman said. “This event gives seniors the opportunity to see what kind of services and organizations are available to them, all in one place.”

“We’ve been seeing people spend a lot of time going from booth to booth,” Valesky said. “This is our first year, but it is our intent to continue to do these events.”