June 27, 2020 — Recent crises around the country have revealed gaps in a great number of areas where government funding and existing structures come up short in their abilities to care for citizens. Seniors are often all too familiar with those gaps.
The Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) — a public agency founded 75 years ago — has continued to address these areas of need in its partnership with a number of local organizations.
From July 22-26, the LCOG will host a virtual race called the Race for the Rest of Us, a fundraising effort in its ongoing support of the Senior & Disability Services (S&DS) Senior Meals Program.
LCOG serves as a regional planning, coordination, program development and service delivery organization in local communities across all 12 incorporated cities in Lane County, including Florence.
The council works in conjunction from a wide-ranging variety of local groups, including six school districts, utilities companies, Lane Community College, Lane Transit District and Willamalane Parks and Recreation, but one primary area of focus is to provide support for S&DS.
“One of our programs is senior meals,” said Brenda Wilson, the executive director of LCOG. “So, we are Meals on Wheels for all of Lane County and we contract with Food for Lane County to deliver our meals within the City of Eugene and we deliver the meals throughout the rest of the county.”
As one of the most vulnerable groups in communities around the country, seniors are often heavily impacted by economic downturns — particularly with recent coronavirus closures and subsequent budget shortfalls all over the public and private sectors — and LCOG is doing its part to alleviate these hardships.
“A lot of people don’t know that our seniors struggle to make difficult choices between rent, mortgage, medication, food and other necessities,” said Wilson.
“Senior Meals fills that gap so that seniors are taken care of,” Wilson said of the program, which provides meal delivery to anyone and their spouse age 60 and older, regardless of income. “And it’s not just the meal. It’s the companionship, the friendship and we’re also doing wellness checks when we drop off food at someone’s house.”
Despite difficulties caused by virus concerns, LCOG has not stopped providing food to the community and the upcoming Race for the Rest of Us is indicative of their continued efforts to support the Senior Meals Program.
“We wanted to find a fundraiser than anyone and everyone could participate in,” Wilson said. “Whether you’re a child, a senior or you’re experiencing a disability. Our main offices are in Eugene and we’re ‘Track Town USA,’ so I thought, ‘How do I capture the energy that comes with that to find a way for us to raise additional funds for senior meals?’ and I wanted it to be something that was healthy for people.”
While most races — for fundraising purposes or otherwise — challenge athletes to complete 5, 10 or 20 kilometers, the Race for the Rest of Us comes in at a tidy 0.5K, making it accessible to all.
Participants who sign up can complete the race any time between July 22 and 26, and will receive a packet including a T-shirt, finisher’s medal and 0.5K bumper sticker.
Wilson also stresses that runners can join the virtual event no matter where in the world they are.
“Anyone can do it anywhere and by anywhere — I mean anywhere. You can do this in London because we’ll mail your packet to you.”
The LCOG is also still looking for local businesses to sponsor the Race for the Rest of Us or any future events put on by the council.
Interested parties may contact Kendra Pennington, community program analyst for S&DS, via email at [email protected]
Runners interested in signing up for the race can visit https://runsignup.com/Race/Events/