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I do not have to tell you that it is time to do our federal income taxes. Well, at least we need to be thinking about it. We have only two and a half months until April 15!
I recently learned that many of us may be eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit. In Summit County, there are already "tax stations" set up to help individuals complete their tax forms. Ravenna's Upper Room Ministries will again be offering free tax services for area residents.
One of the eligibility requirements for the Earned Income Tax Credit is that individuals who do not have a qualifying child, but are between the ages of 25 and 64, with earned income of less than $13,980 in 2012 (or less than $19,190 for married filing jointly) are eligible for a credit of up to $475.
If you have never explored this credit, it may very well be worth your time this year.
To make an appointment at the Upper Room Ministries for this service, call 330-296-2178. Appointments will be available on two different Saturdays and from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Have a few extra dollars now? You might want to think about going on the first Portage County Senior Services bus trip of the year, to Mountaineer on Feb. 26. The trip costs $25, and the casino will give you $25 in free slot play.
Note that this year all bus trip parking will be on East Main Street in Ravenna next to the A&W (next to Giant Eagle).
For additional information, contact the Senior Center at 330-297-3456. Remember that only paid reservations are accepted.
Next month, I will have a complete list of the 2013 bus trips.
Been shopping at Acme the past few months? If you still have your sales receipts, please mail them to the Senior Center. The center can turn the receipts into Acme for reimbursement as part of their Cashback program. All receipts must be received at the Senior Center by Feb. 8. Please mail your receipts to the Portage County Senior Center at 705 Oakwood St., Ravenna, OH 44266.
The money from this program goes toward entertainment and paper products at the center.
Several months ago, I mentioned that the city of Ravenna and Robinson Memorial Hospital agreed to begin talks about creating a Senior Walking Trail on the hospital's campus at Lovers Lane and North Chestnut Street in Ravenna.
I am pleased to report that these two entities in Portage County have agreed to provide this Walking Trail for all area senior citizens (and anyone else who wants a safe, visible place to walk). The trail will be two-thirds of a mile long, made of blacktop, and available to the community from dawn to dusk.
The city will help with the maintenance of the trail, and the hospital will provide the liability insurance. This will be a delightful place to walk, with it located partly in the trees and partly in the open. It will be safe and handicap-accessible.
Now the only thing between us and a safe walking trail is $150,000 to pay for it! I have been given the task of locating a benefactor or a grant to pay for it. Wish me luck!
The Portage County Senior Advocacy Group has taken on the task of surveying all of our churches in Portage County to learn what services are being provided to area senior citizens.
We know that many services have been eliminated because of funding cuts on the federal and state levels. Though our segment of the population is growing, services are being eliminated, not expanded.
The committee is trying to find out what kinds of services are currently available in Portage County as well as what services are perceived to be needed in the future. If you belong to a local church, please encourage the pastor or staff to contact us about what they currently do for senior citizens. Does the church's congregation sponsor regular luncheons, provide transportation to medical appointments, offer free yard work or minor home repairs, do "friendly visiting," or have a food cupboard?
In 2012, we surveyed our local governments (township and city) to find out what they do specifically for senior citizens. Now we want to find out what else is being offered to senior citizens in Portage County. If you are a member of an area church's congregation or leadership, call me at 330-687-9501 or call the Senior Center at 330-297-3456. We will be contacting each church in Portage County (that is listed in the phone book) by phone if we do not receive a call from them.
Last month, I missed getting Dorothy Huff's picture in the column. She was recognized by the Area Agency on Aging 10B by being presented with the 2012 Volunteer of Distinction Award. She is an Ombudsman Volunteer for the Area Agency, regularly visiting two nursing homes in Portage County. The Ombudsman program advocates for residents of nursing homes, insuring that they are comfortable and satisfied with the care they are receiving. Congratulations, Dorothy, and thank you for your concern and interest in our neighbors.