KINGSTON — Max Benjamin was walking around the Kingston Armory on Thursday morning, stopping at several booths set up for the 2017 Luzerne County Senior Expo.
It was a good distraction for Benjamin, who was lamenting Wednesday night’s loss by his beloved Cleveland Indians to the New York Yankees in the American League Divisional Series.
“Yes, my Indians were eliminated,” Benjamin said. “I thought this was their year.”
As disappointed as Benjamin was for the lackluster performance of his favorite baseball team, he was pleased to see all the people and vendors at the Senior Expo.
“This really is a great event,” he said. “I’ve talked with representatives from several agencies and I even got to chat with some of our elected officials. And I’ve seen a lot of old friends.”
The Senior Expo is an annual event sponsored in the spirit of bipartisanship by state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township; state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township; state Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston; and state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township.
The four legislators estimated that nearly 1,000 seniors attended. The day featured local, state and federal agencies, and other local organizations that provide vital services to seniors. In addition, attendees were treated to free health screenings and flu shots.
“Every year I look forward to welcoming our area seniors to the Senior Expo,” Yudichak said. “Whether they are here to learn about programs that can assist and protect them, or they are here to get health screenings or their flu shot, we’re glad we can help them out.”
Added Baker: “People were lined up before the doors even opened. They told us they appreciate the chance to gather information all under one roof.”
Kaufer said it was nice to see so much support for senior citizens.
“It is great that our seniors have this opportunity today to connect with organizations that stand ready to help them,” Kaufer said.
Many of the seniors brought non-perishable items that were distributed to the local food bank.
‘Get my nails done’
Yudichak said three main issues were on the minds of the people coming through the doors:
• Consolidation of four state agencies into one — Aging; Drug and Alcohol Programs; Health; and Human Services. He said seniors wanted to know how the consolidation would affect services provided through the Department of Aging.
• Solvency of the state lottery system. Since most senior citizen programs are funded through the lottery, Yudichak said seniors asked if there would be any changes coming. He said by the year 2020, 25 percent of Pennsylvania’s population will be 65 and over.
• The state budget impasse. Yudichak said seniors wanted to know if any senior programs would be cut.
Baker said she was getting a lot of questions about property tax relief and extension of the Homestead program. She said a lot of people were also concerned about the continued support of gaming funds, currently at about $750 million.
Sitting at a table at the back of the armory, several seniors were enjoying coffee and conversation.
Peggy Warner Foglieta of West Pittston said she attends the Senior Expo every year.
“This is a good place to go if you’re a senior citizen,” said Foglieta, 86. “They have everything here under one roof.”
Foglieta said she talked to people about health care programs and she stopped to speak to the legislators.
“I might get my nails done, too,” she said, referring to a table that offered free manicures and nail polishing.
Louise Gadomski, of Hanover Township, enjoys the expo because she learns about everything for senior citizens.
“I like to stop at the booths and hear what they have to say,” Gadomski said. “Everyone is very pleasant and helpful.”