German Village Gazette

German Village Connections

Executive director hired for aging-in-place program

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JOSHUA A. BICKEL/THISWEEKNEWS
Katie White has been chosen as the new director for German Village Connections, an aging-in-place program serving German Village's senior citizens. In January, program officials will begin signing-up residents who will pay a fee for services, such as transportation, home maintenance, home health care, security, health and wellness and socialization.
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With a new executive director in place, German Village Connections is getting ready for a big launch event in January.

Officials will seek to convince the neighborhood's aging population to sign up and pay a fee for basic services, such as transportation, home maintenance, home health care, security, health wellness and socialization.

"It's a hard sell. The first couple months will be telling," said Katie White, who was recently appointed to lead the new nonprofit organization that will help local seniors age in place.

White said there are some kinks to be worked out, such as setting the annual fee, which likely will be in the ballpark of $500 per individual and $750 for a two-person household. The minimum age requirement is 50.

Officials also are in the midst of vetting service providers and shoring up a solid volunteer base. The group hopes to sign up 30 people in the first year.

"I think that's attainable," White said. "I have really high expectations."

Yet, she expects to run up against some resistance from healthy older adults who might be of age, but don't think they need the help.

She said people can pay others' membership fees.

The organization also is setting up a Membership Plus program, where community members can help support others by donating to a scholarship-type fund to subsidize the membership fee.

Members can also choose a monthly payment program rather than pay the full fee at once, White said.

Connections will have a first-year annual budget of roughly $80,000. Of that amount, $19,000 comes from the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.

Board and community members also contributed to the startup costs. The remainder will come from fund-raising efforts, grants and membership dues, White said.

White, and Upper Arlington resident, studied gerontology at Ohio State University and has worked for assisted-living facilities and the Alzheimer's Association, Central Ohio Chapter.

"I've always had an affinity for older adults," said White, 29, who is being paid $55,000 annually.

Ed Elberfeld, board president of Connections, said White was chosen from a field of 48 candidates, six of whom were given an initial interview and three of whom made the final round.

He called her a "young, smart, energetic gerontologist."

"We're very, very happy to have found Katie White because she definitely fits the bill," Elberfeld said. "And, obviously, this is a major step toward our launch."

German Village Connections is the first such aging-in-place program in central Ohio.

The service area is German Village, Schumacher Place, Merion Village, the Brewery District and Downtown.

Village Connections joins 220 other such villages in 39 states across four countries, Elberfeld said.

Formation of the group was kicked into high gear in 2011, as members of the German Village Society's long-range planning committee discussed how the neighborhood could meet the needs of the older population.

"What they've managed to do in the past two years has been impressive," White said.

She said people tend to be happier when they stay in their houses. And there's a measurable savings for taxpayers. Assisted living care costs about $5,000 a month for each person, White said.

"And that's what the Village can do -- help you age in a healthy manner, age in a happy manner," she said.

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