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Rowan County Council on Aging

 

            The Rowan County Council on Aging was originally founded in December 1971 to create a mechanism to advocate for various community initiatives important to local older adults. 

Members of the Council consisted of representatives from the various senior clubs and organizations throughout Rowan County as well as other individuals interested in older adult issues.  Addie Rhem Morris, for whom the large multipurpose room at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is named, was the Charter President of the Council on Aging.  She molded and directed the organization with a strong hand to advocate for a home delivered meals program, a department of county government devoted to aging, and a senior center in our community.

As a result of the COA’s work, the Rowan County Meals on Wheels organization was established as a non-profit United Way Agency, and continues today to serve homebound older and disabled adults in need of a daily nutritious meal.  With continued advocacy, the Council was instrumental in seeing Rowan County establish the Office on Aging as a department of county government in 1981.  The department continues to operate today as the Rowan County Senior Services Department.  With strong encouragement from the Council, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners appointed a Task Force to study the issue of developing a senior center in the mid-1980’s.   With a positive recommendation from the Task Force, the Council supported a new non-profit initiative to plan, fund and build a new senior center in Rowan County that exists today as Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.  The Rowan County Senior Services Department was moved to the new Center upon its opening in January 1988.

Over the years, as organizational goals were fulfilled and leadership changed, the Council on Aging lost focus and eventually dissolved in 1988.  Rufty-Holmes Senior Center brought representatives from various senior organizations in the community together annually for the Presidents’ Day Luncheon, but this event provided only information-sharing, and not advocacy.

The Senior Services Department and Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, as well as other aging organizations in the community, have advocated for older adult issues, but there continued to be a lack of organized “lay” involvement in addressing older adult needs except for a local delegate to the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature.

With the support of the senior center, the Rowan County Council on Aging was re-activated in November 2007 with Carolyn Blackman elected as its President.  Bob Bruce serves as the current President.

The Council meets at Rufty-Holmes Senior Center on the fourth Thursday of each month at 1:00pm.  Projects undertaken by the Council since its re-activation include the sponsorship of “Citizenship Rowan” classes for retirees; the hosting of candidate forums for the Rowan County Board of Commission and Salisbury City Council; advocacy on the federal, state and local level; promotion of opportunities for older adult representation on state & local Boards & Commissions; the annual sponsorship of “Service to Seniors” Awards; and the development of a “Senior Friendly Business Certification” program.

Membership in the Council is open to any adult interested in older adult issues.