NEW LEBANON–Before working with the senior population, Phyllis Hulbert drove the bus for the New Lebanon school district for 37 years. When Ms. Hulbert’s home was damaged in a fire, the kids on her bus route came to her house to help repair the damage, a local church donated money and the high school had a basketball game to benefit her family. “That was basically my beginning of doing stuff for people,” she says.
Ms. Hulbert, 69, has been working for the county Office for the Aging for a year. The agency works to connect seniors with a host of services to improve quality of life and independence. According to 2015 census data, 21% of Columbia county residents are 65 or older, representing a significant need in communities here.
The Office for the Aging in Hudson was not always able to reach New Lebanon with services. But since she began working with the office, Ms. Hulbert has been able to secure rides for seniors to medical appointments, hospital visits and the grocery store. She also helped change the Meals on Wheels offerings from frozen dinners to hot, ready-to-eat meals.
In addition to her other duties she acts as the liaison between the Office for the Aging and the Town Board and the Lebanon Valley Senior Citizens.
“Officially she is the liaison to the Columbia County Office of the Aging,” town Supervisor Colleen Teal says, adding that Ms. Hulbert has “taken that above and beyond which is phenomenal given our distance from Hudson … as soon as she becomes aware of a gap where service is needed she tries to fill it. If residents aren’t getting what they need because of economic disadvantage, disabilities, whatever the need is she finds a way to resolve it.”
Ms. Hulbert recently received her second certificate from state Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd), honoring the work she’s been doing for New Lebanon’s seniors. And there’s more Ms. Hulbert would like to see happen for seniors in New Lebanon; her goals include a dedicated bus route and affordable housing options.
A lot of what she does, which has ranged from mowing people’s lawns to bringing them groceries, is rooted in her wish “to keep the elderly in their own home instead of going to nursing homes, I feel that their life is more productive in their own home.”
Her experience with senior care began with her own parents, whom she took care of as they aged and faced serious conditions like diabetes and stroke, while remaining in their homes.
Ms. Hulbert is also part of the Lebanon Valley Senior Citizens, a group that meets monthly at the town hall. In addition to visiting the nursing home and sending cards, the group plans activities like bus trips, luncheons and ice cream socials. Any person 55 or older is eligible to join.
Seniors in New Lebanon also performed with the high school choir and students put on a luncheon for seniors and caroled at the nursing home. “This town should be very proud of these kids, the interaction with these kids is something we’ve never had before,” she says.
At a June 18 tag sale the Lebanon Valley Seniors raised $1,314, which will be divided between Charlie’s Pantry and the New Lebanon school backpack program. “The community gives us so much and we want to give back to the community,” Ms. Hulbert says, adding, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help because there is free help out there.”
Information for seniors seeking services such as Medicaid, food stamps, hospice care, and the Meals on Wheels program is available at the New Lebanon Library and at Town Hall. The town newsletter and website also provide information about rides for seniors, events, services, and assistance with paperwork, www.townofnewlebanon.com/lebanon-valley-senior-citizens/