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Second Annual Plumas County Senior Summit a success

Senior-Summit
 Keynote speaker and District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall says "I have changed the picture of aging."
Laura Beaton

Staff Writer
7/27/2014


“The changing picture of aging” was the topic of supervisor Sherrie Thrall’s keynote address to a crowd of seniors gathered for the second annual Plumas County Senior Summit on July 16.

“I am the changing picture of aging,” Thrall said. She’ll turn 70 this November, yet is still very active — a growing trend as baby boomers begin reaching retirement age.


“I’m glad now when I wake up and hurt in the morning — it tells me I’m alive,” Thrall told the audience of about 50. She said in the past six months she has taken up shooting and began a ladies’ trap-shooting group, an activity she had never imagined herself doing.

The summit was held at the Veterans Hall in Quincy and addressed important issues concerning seniors. The event was organized by Nancy Lund and moderated by Jonathan Kusel.

Thrall said that baby boomers don’t believe they are old: many of them remain very active — engaging in recreational and sporting activities, traveling and/or continuing to work.

Fewer seniors attend congregate meals, she said, which results in less funding for senior nutrition, which in turn generates less funding for transportation and other services.

The domino effect often results in cuts to senior programs, which can greatly impact services available to seniors.

Thrall spoke about “the tsunami of aging,” which includes increasing numbers of seniors even while funding cuts continue and senior programs are threatened.

What funding is available must be allocated where needed most, Thrall said. Studies show that transportation is one of the biggest needs, and to her it’s even more important than nutrition.

She said if people won’t admit they’re old, and they get to the place where they shouldn’t drive but still do drive, it becomes dangerous.

In our rural communities, people often must travel 30 to 50 miles for appointments and transportation is critical, Thrall said.

She said the justice court was recently closed in Chester and there isn’t one in Greenville, so folks from outlying communities must travel to Quincy, the county seat, to conduct their official business.

Thrall said she is not seeing the younger people stepping up to fill the shoes of the aging population. When she looks at the makeup of the boards she is on, she sees people like herself.

“We all have grey hair,” she said, and if people ages 56 – 65 don’t step up to volunteer, there will be no advocacy for seniors, and consequently no funding.

“Funding is short, and when seniors don’t come, funding gets shorter,” she reiterated. “We don’t have the money and we can’t print it at the courthouse.”

Legal services are another big demand for seniors — in fact, the biggest one, Thrall said. And what many seniors don’t know is that there are free legal services available to them, just as there is free transportation. For more information on senior services, call 283-6330 or 800-801-6330.




Family history

Two women spoke about the joy and benefits of learning and sharing family history. Tessie Roberts spent six years in Salt Lake City, Utah, first learning how to use the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ extensive ancestry research system, and then helping others research their families.

Roberts said that after her husband, Crawford, died 7 years ago, the bishop came to her and said she couldn’t stay home and cry. He told her he was sending her on a mission, so off she went to the family history center in Salt Lake City.

“Those were six of the happiest years of my life,” Roberts said. “I felt productive.”

She related a story about her grandmother, a direct descendant of the Rothschild family, who ran off with a gentile and immigrated to the U.S. Roberts said her grandmother was cut off by the family, and all reference to her was removed from vital records, halting her research.

She decided to have her DNA tested to try to learn more. Although it helped to identify that she was 1 percent Jewish, she hit an information roadblock that she could not surmount.

She said she hired a researcher for a ridiculously high price but had no success. Then, while taking a train trip, Roberts told her story to her seatmate, who turned out to be a German researcher. Upon returning to Germany, the man researched her family and found reams of information that he sent to Roberts — for free.

She praised the Catholic Church for being an invaluable resource in tracing family lineages because of its careful documentation of births, marriages and deaths.

Kay Christenson spoke next, also recently returned from an LDS mission to Kiev/Ukraine, with her husband. She too is passionate about family history.

Christenson cited a 2013 New York Times article that enumerated the benefits of family connections; children with strong family connections were shown to be more resilient, more able to solve problems and meet challenges and to possess higher self-esteem.

She said it was important to share family stories with children and grandchildren, to build those connections and give kids a broader perspective on the world.

Christenson invited the community to come to the family history center at the LDS church on Bellamy and research their family lineage for free. The family history center has partnered with other genealogy research organizations and offers several search engine resources, she said.

A luncheon followed the speakers, and the remainder of the summit included presentations by county agencies that support seniors and caregivers.

Public Health Director Mimi Hall; Mary Neuman, of Passages; Jimmy LaPlante, of veterans services; and Gary McFarland, from Plumas Transit, all spoke about the services their agencies provide for seniors.


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