WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Max Benjamin couldn’t find “the light bulb people” at Thursday’s Senior Expo at the Wyoming Valley Mall.
But that didn’t stop Benjamin, 71, of Wilkes-Barre, from enjoying the expo, as he stopped at several tables to gather information he could use.
In 2016, Benjamin picked up “enough light bulbs to last me about another 20 years.”
“I come to this event every year,” Benjamin said. “I meet old friends and I make some new friends. But most of all, I gather information and I get all my questions answered.”
Benjamin and several other seniors said they liked the move to the Wyoming Valley Mall mainly because the parking is much better. The expo had been held at the Kingston Armory, but with so many attending, parking became an issue.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, co-sponsored the event with state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, and state Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston.
The free Expo featured more than 70 vendors, with many offering free health screenings.
“This expo gives seniors the opportunity to get a large volume of information and all of the questions answered in a one-stop location,” Yudichak said. “We have everything covered here and representatives of all appropriate agencies are available for discussion.”
Baker said the expo has grown quite a bit over the years, so there is a wide variety of vendors for seniors and families to get information and health care services, like flu shots and blood pressure checks.
“People talked to me about property tax relief, prescriptions, and programs to help them age in place at home,” Baker said. “I also heard a lot about how the opioid epidemic is straining families and putting grandparents in the difficult position of having to raise their grandchildren. It is helpful to hear the personal stories as we continue to work on ways to address this crisis.”
Mullery said it’s great to have an event like the expo that provides a “one-stop” for seniors.
“While both of my offices are open daily to aid constituents, it’s via these annual events when we’re able to bring together such a large number of agencies and vendors,” Mullery said. “Working together and combining all of our resources in one place is a win-win for everyone.”
Kaufer thanked all the attendees and vendors for providing information and thanked his fellow legislators and their staffs for putting on a successful event each year.
“I hope the attendees once again left with new information,” Kaufer said. “I am already looking forward to next year’s event.”
Joan Evan, of Plymouth, said the expo is a good place to learn about many issues.
“People can learn a lot about what’s available when they are faced with caring for a loved one,” Evan said. “You can get a lot of help and answers here.”
Nancy Bailey, 67, of Plymouth, said she has been having some issues with her eyesight.
“I just found some good information on visual supplies,” Bailey said.
Four sophomores from Wyoming Valley West High School were operating a stand, offering free coffee, water and snacks to senior citizens. Andrew Novrocki, Madi Heckman, Logan Cowling and Chloe Inniss said they were doing it to help the seniors and to learn more about their community.
“It feels great to meet and interact with so many people and know that you’re helping out some way,” Novrocki said. “And we are learning how to talk with people and to listen to their concerns.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.