Help is on the way for senior citizens in Avon.
Avon City Council voted 7-0 on July 8 to hire a part-time social worker to provide outreach for those in need of services.
As the senior community has grown, city leaders recognized the need for a social worker to help seniors find resources.
Council discussed the issue during its July 1 meeting, but Law Director John Gasior had to research qualifications for the social worker's supervisor before a vote was taken. Since the
social worker will not provide clinical or counseling services, senior center Coordinator Carmelina Barbera will be their supervisor.
Mayor Bryan Jensen said the social worker will help seniors stay in their homes by locating in-home care. The worker also could provide information on rehab services after a senior’s hospital stay. Jensen and Barbera said most cities or senior centers throughout Lorain County have a social worker who provides those services.
"It's something that we need," Jensen said. "We're not trying to reinvent anything. "We believe hiring someone part time would be the best way to go. "If this doesn't work, or if we think there's a better way to do it, we can always explore other options in the future. This way, we can get someone in place that can help locate resources for our seniors, or help them stay in their homes longer."
Seniors make up about 22 percent of Avon’s population, and the Avon Senior Center provides more than 500 transports a month for seniors to places such as doctor's offices, rehab facilities or the grocery store, Barbera said.
Barbera, who has worked at the Avon Senior Center for 14 years, voiced support for hiring a social worker. She said the center needs an employee “dedicated to providing outreach, monitoring and advocacy.”
The social worker would be paid $20 to $25 an hour and work about 10 to 12 hours a week starting out.
"A trained social worker can better see the needs of someone," Barbera said. "Sometimes seniors can be experiencing significant decline, neglect or even abuse and a social worker can determine someone's needs. A lot of times, I was the one doing that. This job fills a need that we have."
Gasior said an ideal candidate for the job would be someone just starting out in social work or someone late in their career who wants to "slow down."
In other business, council voted 6-1 to place a rezoning issue on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Shire Glenn Green LLC is seeking to rezone 2.8 acres of residential property for office space on the north side of Avon Road, north of Detroit Road and south of Interstate 90.
Councilman-At-Large Brian Fischer cast the lone dissenting vote due to concerns about water drainage issues and the developer not submitting any drainage improvement plans or naming any tenants. Currently, drainage has an independent "out flow" that goes west under I-90.
No residents spoke during the public hearing for the rezoning, but City Engineer Ryan Cummins said the city's Planning Commission and city engineers would have a say in the type of drainage that would go on the property.
"There are significant drainage issues in that area," Cummins said. "The developer has his work cut out for him."
The city charter requires that all rezoning issues be placed on the ballot.
Council's July 8 meeting was the last one before its summer break. Council will return on Aug. 5 with a work session.
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