WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Out of 2,500 hundred homes in Waveland, more than 300 are occupied by single senior citizens.
Mayor Mike Smith is concerned about the vulnerability that this large part of his city’s population faces every day. At a town hall meeting on Wednesday, residents exchanged information and provided an empathetic ear.
Smith knows there are issues, but seniors don’t always have the resources to solve them. “In our small community, to get them in touch with, say, city hall, not everyone can do it. They can’t get out of their house and they may not know the number for city hall. That’s why we are approaching it with a hands-on approach.”
This session was face-to-face at the Ground Zero Museum. Smith felt inspired by the response to a recent request on social media for help. “When you talk to the seniors who live here and have been here for a long time, you’re encouraged about things like that," he said.
One of the biggest issues addressed was chronic late fees on utility bills. The issue stems from the bills being due at the beginning on the month, while most seniors usually don’t get their paychecks until the middle of the month. “I want to try to figure out how we can redo that, to not pick out certain individuals but knowing that’s an issue," he added.
Part of the town hall meeting was also to provide a network of information. “I think it’s very important,” said resident Lee Hardy. “I think it’s very encouraging for us to know that it’s important to him ... the elder issues, our needs, and this is a good way for us to let him know.”
While complex problems face seniors, such as emergency transportation in emergencies or places to go for social activities, they also face smaller day-to-day issues.
That’s where volunteers can step in.
“A lot of seniors need help with simple things like the battery in their smoke detectors need to be changed. A light bulb needs to be changed. Things that are vital to their safety and well being,” said Lora Mederos, director of the Hancock County Human Resource Agency. “And volunteerism is the key to that.”
Smith will now have a workshop town hall meeting for caregivers to senior residents at 6 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Ground Zero Museum.