By emmalee c. TORISK
Before Friday morning, Audrey Gillian knew volunteers of the township’s Senior Watch program only by their voices.
They’ve called her every Tuesday and Thursday morning for the past few years, just to make sure she’s doing OK.
During the Senior Watch Breakfast at the Westfork Roadhouse on Belmont Avenue, Gillian had the chance to meet those volunteers face to face. So did the 33 other senior citizens who are clients of the Senior Watch program.
“[The volunteers] are faithful about calling,” said Gillian, 78, of Colonial Drive. “It’s great at my age, especially if you’re by yourself.”
Trustee Jodi Stoyak said the annual Senior Watch Breakfast not only allows seniors to mingle with and see the volunteers who are helping them every day, but also raises awareness and encourages others to get involved with the program.
The breakfast is the township’s way of bringing its seniors together, said Liberty police Chief Richard Tisone.
“We’ve mostly just had contact over the phone. It’s nice to put a face to the voice,” he said. “It shows that we’re here, and we’re available for them.”
The Senior Watch program is funded each year by a $5,000 “mini grant” from Trumbull County’s senior levy, Stoyak said. This grant provides for the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in residents’ homes and lock boxes on their doors, along with the resources to support routine check-in phone calls or home visits. All services are provided free of charge to participating seniors.
Approximately 48,000 seniors live in Trumbull County, but this number is growing exponentially, said Nicole Agani of the Trumbull County Senior Services Unit. What’s most important is that these elderly individuals are well taken care of in their homes, rather than in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, she said.
“So many seniors tell me, ‘There’s no place like home,’” Agani said.
The Senior Watch program began about four years ago after the death of an elderly woman. Since then, the program’s objective has been to avoid similar tragedies by looking after the community’s many seniors, particularly those who live alone, Stoyak said.
“The most important thing as a township is to get the word out that we provide this service to the community,” she said. “We’re always here and willing to provide any services [seniors] may need.”
For information about the Senior Watch program, call the Liberty Township Police Department at 330-759-1315, or the Liberty Fire Department at 330-759-0363.