Group looking out for Sacandaga seniors

NORTHAMPTON – The Sacandaga Task Force for Senior Living has been providing a multitude of services for older residents while it continues to advocate for senior housing in the area.

In the seven years since it was formed, the group has established programs to help seniors in the Northville area, with plans to spread into Broadalbin and Mayfield.

Task Force President Jim Conkling of Northville said the main goals of the organization are to help seniors live in their own homes for as long as possible and to eventually establish a senior living facility in the Great Sacandaga Lake area.

According to Conkling, the Adirondacks region is second only to Florida in the population of seniors per capita. However, in most parts of the Adirondack Park, special housing and programs for seniors are rare.

This could change, though, as groups like the task force have shown interest in building a retirement community in the local area.

Conkling said for a period of time, a developer was looking to build senior housing in the village of Northville, but he pulled out to build a retirement community in St. Johnsville.

“So we already know, based on their interest, we could easily sustain a 25-unit development in this area,” Conkling said.

Jim Beirlein, treasurer of the task force, said Northville is perfect for such a development because the village building code has a special clause allowing multiple-resident homes for seniors.

The task force runs programs with donations and grants, Conkling said, though state grant funds have tapered off recently.

“A lot of the state money that has been available for that kind of thing has dried up,” Beirlein said.

According to Beirlein, small villages like Northville do not get noticed for state aid as state officials focus more on urban development.

Aside from its goal to offer senior housing for lake-area residents, the task force also assists the elderly in the area.

Every Thursday, a group meal is offered at 113 N. Main St. in Northville. Seniors can make a donation and get a hot meal, provided by the Fulton County office for Aging, or bring their own lunch.

“We do it at 12, and at 12:30 we have a program,” Mary Ann Evans, vice-president of the group, said.

Programs at the meal site feature musicians, storytellers, historians and others. Evans said the lunch lets seniors socialize and gives them a hot meal with friends.

The task force also offers a handyman program, in which local seniors can get help with work around the home.

It also offers a “Wheels” program, in which volunteer drivers will take a senior or a group of them to several destinations. Offering bus trips to shopping centers and other recreation areas as well as doctors’ appointments, the board said the group works hard to keep people mobile.

Carl Ingalls, a board member and volunteer bus driver for the organization, said it has been steadily gaining ground.

“We’re still relatively new, but I think people are starting to know services we provide,” Ingalls said.

Ingalls said the work the organization has done is important to the area.

“People who are elderly and are staying in their homes, they can call us,” Ingalls said.

Kitty Ingalls, who acts as a dispatcher, said more than 4,000 miles were driven last year, with 85 trips made to various doctors around the region.

“Just the fact we did the 4,000 miles last year says there are many older people who need this service,” she said.

For more details about the organization, see its website,