Farmville Favorite: Justine Young
This post is brought to you by guest blog writer Tom Robinson.
The Piedmont Senior Resources Area Agency on Aging has been serving the seven counties of the Piedmont Health District for 37 years. But up until four years ago, their work was languishing and often went unnoticed. They needed a new leader to give them a jump start, especially with the population in central Virginia, like everywhere else, aging rapidly.
They got that jumpstart from Justine Young.
A registered nurse with an MBA from Lynchburg College, Young was more than capable to give PSR a new direction and new energy. As a longtime resident of Prospect she knew the territory. As a former intensive care unit nurse, she knew the importance of moving quickly. As a captain in the United States Army, she knew the importance of discipline.
“For me it was a great opportunity to continue to serve the health needs of the people in the area,” said Young, whose previous position was with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Community Cancer Assessment Program for the Piedmont Health District. “It was such a perfect fit because it was the same population that I worked with in the cancer needs assessment, so I knew the people.”
She would need all of that to lead PSR in a new direction, often in the face of severe opposition. After more than a year of often difficult board meetings, Young worked with a revamped organization to get the word out about what PSR wanted to do and how it wanted to serve.
The hard work eventually paid off. In 2015 PSR served over 1,600 senior citizens aged 60 and older with a multitude of services. They served over 100,000 meals to people in congregate settings in all of the counties, and took meals to people in their homes. They provided nearly 25,000 hours of in-home assistance with tasks, such as preparing meals, light housekeeping, and grocery shopping. They provided legal assistance through Legal Aid to senior citizens who needed assistance with wills, power of attorney, VA benefits and more.
As they moved along Young and her staff saw other areas that needed to be addressed. “We started our Sharp Program that helps to repair people’s homes, and address things like rodent and pest control” she said. “We also dealt with replacing windows and repairing rotten floors. If it’s unsafe, we try to fix it.”
Sometimes success can have its drawbacks. “We have reached capacity in our nutrition program,” Young said, “so we cannot sign anyone into the program right now. They can only come in if someone goes off.”
But as conscientious as she is, there was always something that Young saw that could be done to help senior citizens in the area. PSR also provided help to those who have outlived their money and live in undesirable conditions, getting heaters for clients in the winter time and purchasing air conditioners in the summer. These were not resources that could be purchased through government funding, which PSR received. They needed to come through private donations, so PSR started a major fund-raising campaign.
The latest program in that effort has been “A Racy Affair,” a Kentucky Derby-themed gala held at the J&J Treeland on May 7th. Through the money raised at that event, Young and PSR hope to increase their ability to reach out to more senior citizens and provide them with services many people take for granted.
As our population gets older, there is more need for caring people to reach out and serve others. Justine Young and PSR are showing the way.