Budget cuts cause CSI's Office on Aging to end three programs

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The College of Southern Idaho's Office on Aging ends three of its programs: The Senior Corps Foster Grandparents, Senior Companion and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

Public information officer Shawna Wasko for the Office on Aging said this is done because of budget cuts.

"We don't like that we're losing these programs, but I think a lot of people don't realize that over the last few years, we have baby boomers aging," Wasko said. "Budget limitations are a big problem and these are federal programs."

Wasko said she understands that this is a "big blow" for all involved.

"There's cut and you have to decide on priorities now that people really need, but again, we have those minimums and maximums that we must fulfill," she said.

Wasko adds that President Barack Obama put them under a sequester, "so each year for the next several years ... We'll actually get less and less."

Foster grandparent Wendy Kelly is one who was saddened by the news, learning the foster grandparent program will end in June with a letter in the mail.

"My first thought, they're not even thinking of the children. It's the children that's going to hurt from this," Kelly said.

Although she's been in the program for a year, she said it's become a way of life for her.

"It's a lifestyle I've developed," she said.

Kelly said she see's a need for the children and has grown an attachment.

"You can be out at the store, and it's happened to me, where I hear 'grandma, grandma', I'm Grandma Wendy," she said. "And they're running up and giving you a big hug, of course they're hugging your legs because they're about as tall as they are."

The particular program puts seniors in schools to assist teachers and students. Kelly said the students read to the seniors and the opposite, along with helping out with math and other lessons.

"It's very rewarding, but it's needed," she said.

Kelly said her and the others have thought about other alternatives.

"We already planned to keep on going, but we really are needed to be sponsored to do it right," she said.

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