Aging at Home Fairbanks

Aging at Home Fairbanks began as a way for seniors to get some help with routine home chores. It has evolved into providing a social outlet for not only members, but the entire community.

A recent survey of members revealed that the social opportunities provided by the organization are just as important as the handyman-type service offered for individuals.

So the mission statement has now been revised to say “Aging at Home Fairbanks is a member organization offering support for older adults to live independently and to remain connected in their community.”

As part of that new mission AAH Fairbanks is opening some of its events to the public — including Zoom sessions with well-known authors called “Good Reads.” Some other presentations of local historic interest and educational workshops are also open to the public. For details, see the AAH Fairbanks website at aahfairbanks.clubexpress.com.

There have been Zoom sessions with Haines author Heather Lende, Alaska poet Peggy Shumaker, and author Mary Shields. Alaska novelist Dana Stabenow is slated for an appearance soon.

Fairbanksan Marvin Falk recently provided a presentation on the history of Samson’s Hardware, complete with historical photos and entertaining anecdotes. He will provide a video presentation via Zoom at 3 p.m. on Wednesday focusing on the Golden Days Parade, entitled “Election year golden Days tradition: the voters as seen from the floats.”

To get the Zoom address, email aahfairbanks@gmail.com or call 907-799-4026.

Another session covered the Tanana Raft Race Classic.

“Being able to invite speakers to join us wherever they are, even outside the state, has been great,” said Mary Ann Borchert, chair of the public relations committee. “No travel is involved, it’s easier to find dates that work and it’s definitely less expensive.

“We’re very much looking forward to being able to meet in person again, but this last year has given us opportunities to be creative in how we operate,” she added.

AAH Fairbanks launched several years ago, under the umbrella of North Star Council on Aging. It is based on the national Village-to-Village Network, and AAH Fairbanks is one of 200 such organizations nationwide.

Members pay an annual fee to join the group: $400 for individuals and $600 for families. That fee may sound high, but it comes out to about $33 a month or $1 a day for an individual. That also pays for a part-time program director who acts as a liaison between seniors needing help and volunteers with expertise. Membership has remained steady. 

The group keeps a list of volunteers who can help seniors with odd jobs. It also maintains a list of paid providers who have been recommended by members and friends. Those businesses provide services at reasonable prices, in a timely manner, with guarantees — and often, senior discounts.

“We do more than offer services,” said Joy Clein, program director. “A lot of people really like the Zoom events, especially over the winter, for safety and accessibility.”

During the past year of the coronavirus pandemic, the Zoom sessions replaced monthly field trips and luncheons. But the number of events increased and that has been a welcome addition for seniors isolating due to COVID safety protocols.

Opening Zoom sessions to the public also gets the organization out in the public eye and has resulted in at least one new member. AAH Fairbanks recently held a fund drive to help the Senior Center purchase heated food carriers for the Meals on Wheels program. 

“We were delighted to receive donations from members and non-members and in a larger amount than expected,” Borchert said. “This means our donations will help with other parts of the program, as well.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.