Rescue plan

Regional Agency on Aging Receives $ 668,994 in American Rescue Plan Act Fund

By Christina Knoell
San Juan Basin Region Agency on Aging

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) on March 11 to combat the economic and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide financial assistance to Americans.

Of the $ 1.9 trillion package, $ 1.43 billion is earmarked for the Old Americans Act (OAA), including nutrition programs, immunization support services, assisted transportation, home and community services and evidence-based programs, such as Chronic Disease Prevention and the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

To date, more than 51 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed and more than 800,000 lives have been killed in the United States due to COVID-19.

The San Juan Basin Region Agency on Aging (SJBAAA) – Region 9, located in southwest Colorado and serving Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties, recently received an ARPA contract from the State Unit on Aging of the Colorado Department of Human Services. in Denver. The National Network on Aging involves 618 Regional Aging Agencies (AAAs), approximately 20,000 service providers and 281 tribal organizations, with one native Hawaiian organization, representing 400 tribes. Colorado has 16 AAAs and Region 9 covers two tribes, the Southern Ute Tribe in Ignacio and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in Towaoc.

In Region 9, Christina Knoell, Executive Director of SJBAAA, offered to work with a Pagosa Springs company on a growing dome project to benefit five senior centers in the area. The first two would be built to support the tribes of Ignacio and Towaoc. Another growing dome would be built at Dove Creek for the Pioneer Center. A fourth growing dome would be built in Silverton for its recently opened seniors’ center, with the last being built in Pagosa Springs for Archuleta Seniors Inc. For this proposal, Knoell said he has been thinking about how ARPA funds could help his own. region by offering quality food. and health benefits for the elderly, as well as boosting the local economy.

After first examining the tribes in the area, whose members have been hit hardest by COVID-19 cases, Knoell later found that the region’s network of nutrition program providers were interested in domes. With access to a growing dome, the senior centre’s dining venues could fight chronic disease management by incorporating healthy local foods. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has already agreed to the proposed partnership and Knoell plans to meet with the Tribal Council in Ignacio in the coming weeks.

Another important part of the grow dome proposal is to hire a master gardener to ensure that the soil and plants thrive in the domes. A full-time master gardener for the first five years would help maintain a healthy plant ecology and help prevent disastrous whitefly or aphid infestations.

The OAA and its programs became law in 1965 because of concerns about the lack of community social services for people aged 55 and over for tribal members and 60 and over for non-tribal members. Other priorities are given to the elderly who have the greatest economic and social needs. Reauthorization of the act and its funds occurs approximately every four to five years to add provisions that strengthen support service programs. The most recent reauthorization in 2020 aims to give more flexibility to the aging network for grandparent / grandchild care programs and to help remove barriers so that the aging network can operate more efficiently by adopting business skills practice.

Knoell will present the Growing Dome proposal to the SJBAAA Board of Directors in early January. Once this step is completed with approval, it will seek foundation and flatwork contractors to bid on the first phase of the first growing dome project at Towaoc. For more information, the public and interested entrepreneurs can contact her at [email protected] or call (970) 403-9744.