By Leah Sisco
CRAWFORD COUNTY – The Crawford County Commission on Aging (CCCOA) has traditionally provided senior citizens with services such as home delivered meals, organized activities, and help with personal care and homemaking. Thanks to a recent grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust, the CCCOA has also helped seniors cover costs associated with pet ownership.
The CCCOA was among eleven recipients of the Banfield Michigan Pet Assistance Grant last year. The $2,500 award funded the formation of the Pet Project, a program to help low-income, older adults pay for routine pet food and veterinary bills as well as boarding fees during a medical emergency. Pet Program participants may receive food assistance four times during a 12 month period and one time for veterinary assistance.
According to CCCOA Program Director Alice Snyder, the Pet Project responds to a pressing need in the senior community.
‘During our 2013 Community Needs Assessment, the number one unmet need identified by our community partners was paying for pet food or vet bills,’ she said, adding that the Pet Project has assisted 12 seniors with vet bills and 43 seniors with pet food since the project launched in July 2015.
To qualify for assistance through the Pet Project, a person must be a resident of Crawford County, at least 60 years of age, and have an income of no more than $1,471 per month for an individual or $1,991 for a two-person household. Alternatively, a person may qualify if they meet the age requirement and also receive Federal Public Housing Assistance, are in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, receive SNAP benefits (Food Stamps), or are on SSI or Medicaid.
The Pet Project will conclude at the end of May 2016, although Snyder said the CCCOA will likely apply for the grant again in the future. In the meantime, the public can help sustain the program through donation and volunteering to provide transportation.
‘Donations are always welcome and would stretch the dollars farther,’ Snyder said. ‘This isn’t really a program that needs volunteers, although sometimes we do need people signed up as transporters to deliver the food.’
People interested in donating or people who think they may qualify for assistance should contact Alice Snyder at the Commission on Aging and Senior Center at 989-348-7123.
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