A local campaign committee is fighting to keep Meals on Wheels in Athens County by helping raise awareness about Issue 21, according to a news release. The levy provides half the funding for this program, and will be on the countywide ballot on Nov. 5.

Committee members Kathy Hecht, David Keller, Sandy Shirey, Samantha Pattantyus and Joyce Lewis recently spent time serving lunches and talking with diners at the Senior Dining Site at the Athens Community Center.

“Meals on Wheels is an incredible program; it’s just that simple,” Hecht, who has volunteered on the committee since its beginnings in 2009, said in the release.

Hecht served on the board for Hocking Athens Perry Community Action for 14 years, but her ties to Meals on Wheels are a lot more personal than helping steer the organization that provides this program, according to the release. “I moved my mother to Athens from Indiana, which is where I’m originally from. She became homebound and a family friend connected her with Meals on Wheels. I know firsthand what a difference this program makes in the lives of seniors,” Hecht said in the release.

Pattantyus, treasurer for the committee, also has a connection to the mission of Meals on Wheels, the release said. “I had a close relationship with my grandparents,” she related. “My grandparents had my mom and me to take care of them, but many seniors do not have that support. Our senior citizens gave us so much, this is one way for us to repay them.”

Meals on Wheels provides more than 15,700 meals a year in Athens County to homebound and low-income senior citizens. Meals are delivered throughout Athens County to homebound clients and lunches are served at the Athens Community Center weekdays at lunchtime and at the Three Star Club for Seniors in Glouster for anyone who is 60+ years of age.

Both dining sites also host parties and social gatherings throughout the year.

Issue 21 will renew an existing 0.25-mill property tax levy in Athens County. This translates to roughly $7.88 per year for every $100,000 of home value, the release said.

Sandy Shirey, who has worked extensively with organizations including the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD), the United Seniors of Athens County and American Red Cross, explained in the release why Issue 21 is so essential. “Issue 21 is a renewal levy,” she said. “It is not a new tax and not a tax increase. We are voting for senior nutrition and we are voting for senior fellowship.” Sandy has served on the committee since the levy was first passed in 2009.

In the release, David Keller also spoke about the importance of this fellowship. “Like Sandy mentioned, for many of the seniors served through Meals on Wheels, the food is critical, but just as critical are the support services seniors have access to while participating in Meals on Wheels,” he said. “Wellness checks up to three times a week for delivered meals, access to other free food programs, meeting friends and neighbors for lunch at the dining site, easy access to senior-specific resources…”

Interested parties can contact the Issue 21 committee at athenscountyissue21@gmail.com or find them on facebook @athenscountyissue21 for up-to-date information about the levy to support Meals on Wheels in Athens County, the release said.

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