Page 4 - Heart of Hoag December 2016
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Hoag and Council on Aging Bring Critical Services to O.C.’s Growing Senior Population
Highly trained volunteers and sta  will be on hand helping seniors navigate the complex landscape of health care, Medicare and other issues.
The woman didn’t know where to turn. Newly diagnosed with cancer, she had no family or social support network – and no way of paying the $37,000 she was told her medicine would cost.
Fortunately, she was referred to the Council
on Aging – Southern California (COASC),
where a volunteer sat with her and patiently walked her through 38 different health plans until they found one that would cover the entire cost of her medicine.
“With our Medicare expertise, we helped her select a health plan that gave her peace
of mind, and eliminated a huge  nancial burden,” said Don Collins, director of The Council on Aging’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP).
Every day, a team of highly trained and compassionate COASC volunteers and staff works closely with Orange County’s growing population of seniors, helping them navigate the aging experience which includes the complex landscape of health care, Medicare, caregiving, abuse and other issues seniors routinely face.
Beginning in early 2017, with the help of donor support, the Council is bringing many of its popular classes and programs to the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living.
The unique partnership between Hoag and COASC will give seniors greater access to important information and resources designed to keep them healthy, con dent and engaged, from support groups to low-income bene ts enrollment, to a popular “Roadmap to Medicare” workshop.
The Council’s outstanding services are made
all the stronger by an enthusiastic network of volunteers, who currently number over 400,
with nearly 90 volunteers dedicated to HICAP. COASC’s volunteer ranks include men and women who have personally had positive interactions and experiences with COASC volunteers and staff.
Don Collins is a prime example of this phenomenon. As retirement approached, the Orange County-based former retail executive started exploring Social Security bene ts and Medicare options – and like so many in his situation, found the experience overwhelming.
He was referred to COASC’s HICAP. During a one-hour meeting with a volunteer, Collins got all the information he needed to make an informed
decision tailored to his speci c  nancial needs in retirement. For good measure, he attended the “Roadmap to Medicare” class.
“I came away with everything I needed to know,” says Collins, whose career included tenures with IKEA and JC Penney. “I was so impressed with the program that I decided to become a volunteer counselor myself. I want to help people solve problems as it relates to improving their quality
of life.”
After completing 36 hours of intensive training, Collins became a volunteer counselor with HICAP. But he wasn’t done: he was so taken by the program and COASC overall that he came out of retirement to work full time as director of HICAP.
“When I was a young man in my career, I had a mentor named Ray. He was so good to me and helped me professionally,” Collins recalls. “One
day I asked him why he cared so much about me. He said, ‘One day you will know.’ Thirty years later, I knew that he was talking about giving back. He taught me the importance of investing in people and giving back to them where needed. Now I have the opportunity to help people. This was the program I wanted to give back to. I want to  gure out how to give back to more people.”
“Don Collins’ attitude – which re ects a heartfelt desire to give back and to help people wherever and however he can – mirrors the wonderful philosophy and culture of the Council on Aging,” says Michaell Rose, LCSW, director of community programs at Hoag’s Community Bene t Program. “And it is why we are so proud to partner with them to reach Orange County’s seniors with these vitally important programs and services.”
Don Collins was so impressed with HICAP he became a volunteer counselor before coming out of retirement to work full time as director.

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