Originally created 02/03/05

Manager concerned for needs of elderly



For Stephanie Quattlebaum, the Area Agency on Aging is a "good fit."

The former hospice counselor has been the program manager at the CSRA Regional Development Center, which includes the Area Agency on Aging, for about a month.

"I'm really doing what I like to do," she said. "It's always fun to go into a facility and to visit the people in the hallways - they're just precious."

Ms. Quat-tlebaum graduated from Augusta State University in 2003 with a degree in sociology. She was working in banking and wasn't sure how to get into human services. She credits the Rev. Joe Dunagan, the manager at St. Joseph Hospice, with being her mentor and helping her with the transition. She worked at the hospice before accepting the job at the development center.

In her role as the programs manager for the development center, which provides services for 14 counties in the area, Ms. Quattlebaum said that she is able to draw on her experience from the hospice.

"The job entails bereavement, public administration and public policy - all tied together," she said. "It's been going good."

When applying for the job, she said, her skills appeared to be perfectly matched with the duties required.

"But you never know until you get there," she said. "It's a great team atmosphere here. Everyone works together - it's a great place to be."

The organization's primary mission is to identify and plan programs to meet the senior population's needs. Another part of the development center's mission is to make sure caregivers and seniors know what programs and training are available in the community.

To help achieve that, Ms. Quattlebaum wants to enhance the agency's relationship with the church community.

"Seniors know and trust their church," she said. "We want to enable the church to be able to provide services for their senior members."

Another of the challenges Ms. Quattlebaum said the agency is having to address is changing its focus from caring for older seniors to meeting the needs of a younger, retired population that has its own set of problems.

"Their needs are different," she said. "We have many baby boomers who are now caregivers. We're now having to support caregivers.

"Another new group that is springing up is grandparents raising grandchildren," she said. "And we're working with kids with disabilities."

One program that is working well for the disabled is Operation Independence, Ms. Quattlebaum said. High school vocational students work with Walton Rehabilitation Hospital to build ramps for seniors and disabled patients.

"It's working great," she said. "Business sponsors pick up the expense for the material and the students construct the ramps at the homes.

"We're crossing generations. Vocational students don't always get to see their work make a difference since they mostly do school shop projects, but their work really does make a difference."

Rural counties really need this program to get off the ground, she said.

"I know Richmond County," she said. "But it's been really exciting to see what people are doing with grants in Washington, Burke and Sandersville.

"We hear so much bad news - it's nice to hear something being done that's right. There's many people doing a great job."

Reach Ed Scott at (706) 823-3704 or ed.scott@augustachronicle.com.