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Genesee County OFA Celebrates Marshall Fund's 15th Year

On June 18, the Genesee County Office for the Aging and its community partner organizations and more than 150 supporters celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the establishment of the Muriel H. Marshall Fund for the Aging at the Clarion Hotel in Botavia, NY.

Joining the Genesee OFA were the Rochester Area Foundation (the organization that administers the Fund), Lifespan of Greater Rochester, the Genesee Senior Foundation Inc.,the Richmond Memorial Library, Catholic Charities, Pathstone Corporation.

An estate bequest in 1991 from Roxanne Marshall, a local librarian and daughter of a Batavia businessman, established this permanent fund at Rochester Area Community Foundation in honor of her mother, Muriel H. Marshall. Roxanne's dream was to support services that enhance the quality of life for older residents of Genesee County, and enable them to remain independent and involved in the community. In her instructions to the Community Foundation in 1991, Roxanne identified the services that she wanted her gift to support and she described the purpose of the Fund "to provide non-medical home services for the elderly residents of Genesee County."

This is evidence supporting the adage that one person can indeed make a difference. Roxanne Marshall's dream became a reality as her initial gift of $7.8 million has provided $5.2 million in grants since 1997.

Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York Office for the Aging, who attended the event, said, "What is happening here is a big deal. This is unique and spectacular. Roxanne believed one shouldn't stop living simply because they are getting older or may not be as able as they once were physically. The older adults in Genesee County are being aided by a visionary who understood that some of the most simple and least expensive services are also some of the most important. Because of Roxanne Marshall's insight, this assistance is going to go on for years and years."

What Roxanne knew back in 1991 is still relevant. Roxanne understood that what may appear to be a small service can actually be a the difference between an individual being able to stay at home in their community and live with dignity or needing institutional care. These "small services" can allow an older adult to continue to live despite challenges associated with growing older. Roxanne understood the importance of mobility and the importance of staying connected to people and their communities. The Marshall Fund has made a big difference for many older adults who may or may not have been able to leave their homes without assistance.

The services that the Marshall Fund provides are services that are not otherwise well funded or funded at all by other traditional sources . Some of the services resemble the important services provided under the Older Americans Act. The Marshall Fund dollars however are prohibited from supplanting existing funds and instead are used to enhance services and fill in important service gaps.

The Marshall Fund supports:

Handyman Services
A home maintenance and minor repair program. Handyman services include:

Home Visitation
A home visitation program provides weekly visits to provide socialization, companionship and assistance. Services include:

Library Services (SAGE)
This program provides library services to individuals confined to their homes on a short-term or long-term basis. Delivered materials may include:

Recreation
This program is available to senior citizen groups to provide for entertainment, events or outings which promote increased socialization.

Transportation, Transportation Coordination and Assisted Transportation
This service provides information, assistance, assessment, and scheduling for medical, social and shopping transportation needs.

Further, Community Action of Orleans & Genesee counties offer a "Door Through Door" Transportation (CATS bus)that is a specialized service for those who are unable to use other options due to their need for extra help. This service provides a driver who is able to assist riders with their belongings and preparation for boarding the accessible bus.

Social Transportation
This program supports transportation costs for groups of older adults wishing to participate in social events or outings as approved by the Genesee Senior Foundation, Inc.

Financial Management
This in-home service provides assistance with budgeting, bill paying and day to day financial matters such as:

Each service area is provided under the oversight of the Rochester Area Community Foundation in partnership with local providers who deliver the service which is all coordinated by the Genesee County Office for the Aging.

Despite the recession, the Marshall Fund has a current value of almost $10 million and annually provides about $400,000 in service dollars to Genesee County Older Adults.

There could be a Marshall Fund in every county in New York State. Learn more about the Marshall Fund(External Link) and consider creating an opportunity in your organization for individuals in your county to create their own legacy by leaving a planned gift to support helping older New Yorkers live independently, with dignity.