Spring is coming!
Word From Executive Director
Council on Aging Blossoms
Heather Bauer, Executive Director
Nearly a year has passed since we pivoted our operations due to the Pandemic. I am inspired and motivated by the fertile soil that Council on Aging cultivates over time to allow for equity, dignity, and respect in service, education, and advocacy for a diverse population. Despite these times being challenging beyond the norm, we have continued to plant seeds that bloom in many different ways in our community and bring spirit to our efforts. Growth through challenge not only changes us, it transforms us.

While these blossoms of social health are not always in full public view, we hope that our newsletters highlight our commitment to quality, sustainability, growth, and impact...on the individual and community level. We care for every life we have the honor to be a part of and know that together we are making a difference in the generations of our community. Together we have a beautiful plot in the landscape of aging services. The many different living histories that we become a part of add rich and powerful color to our experience as social service providers.

Spring is a time for renewal. While there is always a level of uncertainty about which programs will be funded, how much support we will receive, and what this means for personnel and the number of clients we will be able to serve, this season is also a time where we can dig deep with innovation, compassion, and creative expressions of our commitment to well-being. We embrace possibility. We foster innovation, seek to boost engagement and connection, and continue to build our Vision for a community where everyone has the opportunity to age successfully.

We hope you will join us in re-committing to making a difference in the lives of aging adults. No matter who you are, there are always opportunities to be a part of this Age Friendly Community. We hope you will make a conscious decision to connect with an older adult in your life, volunteer your time, make a donation, or find other ways that you may support the rapidly growing aging population in Buncombe County and beyond.

Sharing from our friends at Healthy Aging NC:

According to this research article, gardeners reported better balance, gait speed, and fewer falls compared to non-gardeners."

"Aging...It’s Everyone’s Future...Stay Active, Stay Involved, Stay Informed.”

Did you know that March brings several different ways for COA to make special recognitions?

1) March is the anniversary celebration of the Older American's Act Nutrition program, of which we are a part. Read more in Agency News below, or online.

2) March is a time to thank Social Workers! We have 20 staff members and our team is comprised highly skilled and experienced Resource Coordination social workers and other aging service specialists. Read more about us. This year's theme is "Social Workers are Essential!"

3) March is Women's History Month! Thank you to all the wonderful women locally, nationally, and worldwide that are a part of this history of honor and trailblazing. Read the proclamation here.
Agency News:
March is Senior Nutrition Month
Senior Dining and Wellness Program Updates
Billie Breeden, Director of Congregate Nutrition
Good news! In February 2021, the Senior Dining and Wellness Program added an additional day of curbside pickup of hot meals from Moose Café at three of the four senior dining sites. Senior Opportunity Center and Weaverville First Baptist Church provide curbside pickup 5 days a week, Monday through Friday. This is the same schedule as before the pandemic! Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center added a third day to their schedule and provides curbside pickup of meals on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday each week. Lakeview Community Center still provides curbside pickup of meals on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. In addition to the hot meals provided by Moose Café, shelf-stable groceries and fresh produce are provided to the participants on a weekly basis. 

The Council on Aging could not accomplish our goals of providing nutritious meals for older adults without our partners – Asheville Parks and Recreation (Shiloh & Senior Opportunity Center), Weaverville First Baptist Church, and Black Mountain Parks and Recreation.

For more information about our program and dining sites, please call Billie Breeden, Director of Congregate Nutrition, at 828-277-8288 ext. 1316.
Check Out This Savory Recipe: Creamy Chicken Apple Salad
"Food Assistance For Anyone
Who Needs It"
Gayland Welborn, Services Coordinator
Gerald Bailey, a new resident at Battery Park Apartments in downtown Asheville, recently found himself in need of food assistance and asked the Council on Aging of Buncombe County for help. Gerald has always taken great pride in being self-sufficient, but a recent housing change and the COVID pandemic prompted him to seek assistance.

Gerald’s situation demonstrates the value of services like low-income housing and food support, especially for elderly citizens in need. Born in Cherokee, N.C., Gerald is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. His mother was a full- blooded Cherokee and his father a “Scottish Gypsy.”  His parents instilled in him a love of learning and an appreciation for travel that exposed him to a variety of cultures around the world.  A graduate of Columbia University, Gerald has worked as a teacher, social worker, and a community nurse in places like India, Scotland, Turkey, and Nepal. He taught English to Tibetan Monks at the Shar Gaden Monastery in Mundgod, India and is himself an ordained Buddhist Monk in the Tibetan tradition of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

After years of working and traveling around the world, Gerald returned to the Cherokee area. He recently found himself in need of affordable housing and started looking at low-income options for seniors.  This past December he moved into Battery Park Apartments and says that his new home is a “wonderful place for me to live.”  Gerald has obtained SNAP benefits and though it is a limited amount, he is thankful because “every little bit can help.” He thanks the Council on Aging and urges anyone who needs assistance to give us a call.

For more information about SNAP, click here. We work with MANNA FoodBank as part of our Senior SNAP enrollment initiatives. Follow us on Facebook or visit us online for upcoming educational Zoom events. We make it easy to get help paying for groceries and saving you money!

We know many adults are relying on Social Security benefits and are on fixed incomes. With rising food costs, using SNAP frees up cash for other essentials, like medicine. Plus, SNAP dollars add up from month to month, so you can save for special occasions with family and friends.
Cook Up Something Delicious
One thing for sure, Nina Meisenheimer is a great cook. Her children, grandchildren, and many of the residents at Battery Park Apartments will readily attest to her talents in the kitchen. “Ms. Nina,” as she is known around Battery Park, is a social leader who before COVID-19 would plan gatherings and cook for residents of the building. You always knew she was cooking by the wonderful aromas coming from her apartment.

These recipes are from a family cookbook put together by her family in 1993. Today, her immediate family numbers 110 members and she is very proud of her family history. Born and raised in East Tennessee, she is the fifth of nine children who all learned at a young age to grow, cook, and preserve the food that has fed her family for generations.  Her father was a “country preacher” and she says that “we were all loved and blessed by God.”  Her mother was a tireless worker who passed along the cooking secrets Nina still uses today. Here are two of her favorite recipes.

4 eggs                                                             2 ½ cup sugar
1 qt buttermilk                                            5 c. flour
1 cup oil                                                         1/2 cup Raisin Bran

Mix all of the ingredients in a large container. Pour that mixture into a container that has a lid for storage in the refrigerator. DO NOT STIR AGAIN, EVER! Dip muffins out when ready to bake. Bake as many or as few that you want. Dough will last up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.


1 pkg frozen chopped spinach                    
1 small can chopped water chestnuts
1(16 oz.) container sour cream                 
1 pkg. Lipton’s dry onion soup mix.

Thaw spinach, drain, and squeeze until all water is out. Mix with other ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours prior to serving.  Serve with crackers. (Waverly are best.)

Beneficiary Beware
Stop! I Don't Want Your Discount.
John Wingerter, Director of Development
and Strategic Partnerships
A Medicare beneficiary brought this situation to our attention recently and with this person’s permission, we want to make everyone aware.

The beneficiary selected a new Medicare drug plan for 2021 and had a prescription filled on January 3, 2021 at a CVS pharmacy. He noticed that the pharmacy charged the prescription to the new drug plan. Several weeks later, he had a new prescription at the same CVS pharmacy with a co-pay of $54 and since he was still in the deductible phase of his coverage he assumed that the prescription was being charged to the new drug plan.

Two weeks later he had a prescription refill with a co-pay of $197. He paid the copay assuming that he was about done with the deductible for the year. As he was leaving the pharmacy, he noticed on the Prescription Information receipt stapled to the outside of the bag that the insurance information (in very small print) indicated that it was charged to SingleCare which is a discount drug card and not his Medicare drug plan. READ MORE
Volunteer Shout Outs
Marilyn Malone
Meet Marilyn Malone, Volunteer Extraordinaire at the Weaverville First Baptist Church Senior Dining Site. Marilyn has been attending the Weaverville Dining Site for 7 years. She started participating at the dining site after her husband passed away. Three years ago, Marilyn started helping Jennifer Hilliard, Site Manager, in the kitchen plating out the food. During the pandemic, Marilyn has not missed a beat. She has continued to help Jennifer in plating the hot meals for curbside pickup at the dining site. Not only does Marilyn help with plating the food, but also in counting the consumer contributions, and cleaning the pans and kitchen. Jennifer says, “Marilyn is a big help to me. I appreciate all that she does. I could not offer the curbside pickup during this pandemic without her help as many of our volunteers have been unable to help during this time.”
Marilyn says she continues to volunteer because, "I enjoy it and I look forward to it. It gets me out of the house and I can see people. I love it. ” 
We are very grateful for Marilyn’s time and dedication to the Senior Dining and Wellness Program. We are glad to know her and have her as a part of our team! 
Pam Holcombe
Pam Holcombe is this edition's Medicare Volunteer Super Star! Pam has been volunteering with Council on Aging for over two years. The clients' that she has worked with describe her as very professional, knowledgeable, and patient.

Pam says that she continues to volunteer as a Medicare counselor with COA because, "Being able to help folks navigate their Medicare options, particularly during the last year, is truly rewarding." Pam continued to provide counseling throughout the pandemic and was quick to learn the ways of remote counseling.

Pam is always willing to step in and help out in any situation. During our busiest times of year, she has volunteered to help return phone calls and to help scheduling Medicare appointments. Whenever a counselor cancels at the last minute, Pam is always one of the first counselors to respond and fill in for that appointment.

We are grateful to have Pam on our team of skilled and knowledgeable volunteers. We would not be able to help all of the clients we do without amazing volunteers like Pam!
What Clients Are Saying
Upcoming Events
Free "Introduction to Medicare" Webinar
The Council on Aging of Buncombe County is presenting virtual classes on Medicare!

We explain how Medicare works,
the enrollment process, how to avoid penalties,
and ways to save money.

Pre-registration is required and you must provide an email address. A Zoom link will be sent to you prior to the class with further instructions.

"The slide presentation is excellent. Every point of contact with COA, including the information provided, emails, the webinar, follow-up links, etc., is well thought out and easy to use;
very polished and professional."
- Medicare Webinar Participant

Upcoming Classes:

March 10, 2:00PM - 3:30PM

March 25, 2:00PM - 3:30PM

April 14, 2:00PM - 3:30PM

April 29, 2:00PM - 3:30PM

May 12, 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Not All Heroes Wear CAPES
Caring for Aging People Education & Support
CAPES has gone virtual!

3rd Tuesday of every month,
5-6:30pm via Zoom.

Meeting ID: 848 6164 0427
Password: 125598

Whether you are a long-distance caregiver, a working family caregiver, living with or nearby your loved one, we recognize that you need support, education, and
information that can help you navigate this journey.

Due to the pandemic, our monthly meetings have gone virtual.
While we look forward to the time where we can meet again in person, please join us!

Speaker 5-5:30 pm; Support Group 5:30-6:30 pm

March 16th: Elder Legal Issues (Daniel Mendez)
April 20th: Grief and Healing (Vance Goodman)
May 18th: When/Why to call EMS (Cory Reavis)

Start the conversation by contacting Jennie Pressley.
(828) 277-8288, ext. 1308
Happening Now
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment
January 1 - March 31
Medicare Advantage
Open Enrollment Period
ends March 31.

Each year, if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to Original Medicare (and join a separate Medicare drug plan) once during this time.

Our Medicare counselors are available to work with you individually to provide unbiased information about your Medicare insurance options.

Call (828) 277-8288 to schedule an appointment.
Affordable Care Act
Open Enrollment is Back!
February 15th - May 15th
During this time you can enroll in a new health plan or change your current insurance plans.

Call (855) 733-3711 to schedule a free, unbiased, and confidential healthcare appointment with our NC Certified Navigators.

The Council on Aging is a certified Navigator agency. Our staff and volunteers provide service to anyone seeking information and enrollment assistance, including people under the age of 60.
Seal of Transparency
Our organization earned a 2021 Gold Seal of Transparency! Now, everyone can view our financial details and learn about the people at our organization. Check out our updated #NonprofitProfile on Candid by clicking here.
Thank You To Our Corporate Sponsors
Welcome, Golden Oak Medicine!