RALEIGH – The North Carolina Coalition on Aging has named State Representative Donna White of Johnston County as a Champion for Aging for her longtime devotion and many achievements on behalf of senior citizens in the state.
After graduating from the Watts Hospital School of Nursing, Ms. White worked as a public health nurse, then for the NC Department of Public Health and next as an Aging and Health Specialist in the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services. In her state posts, she developed a model for geriatric case management and also ways to assist elder victims of telemarketing fraud and scams. She was first elected in NC House District 26 in 2016.
“Through her hard work and tireless dedication, Donna McDowell White has established herself as a champion for North Carolina’s senior citizens,” said NCCOA Executive Director Heather Burkhardt.
At the recent annual meeting, the coalition also honored four persons as being Pioneers in the field:
- Mary Bethel of Raleigh, formerly of the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services, AARP NC, who served as NCCOA’s first executive director.
- Suzanne LaFollette Black of Wilmington and the AARP NC.
- Dr. Billy Dunlap of Raleigh and Hospice of Wake County.
- Dennis Streets of Pittsboro, formerly of the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services; now Executive Director of the Chatham County Council on Aging.
The coalition is a statewide, umbrella group of 85 state and local agencies, providers and associations, and advocacy groups, plus 50+ individuals. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for NC’s older adults through collective advocacy, education, and public policy work.
The coalition’s top legislative priorities in 2021 are: improving voting access for residents of group care facilities; stabilizing the direct care workforce; restoring state funding for rural transportation needs; increasing reimbursement for adult day service providers; and expanding Medicaid to eliminate the insurance gap for the working poor.
As one of the nation’s fastest-growing retirement states, North Carolina has 1.7 million persons over age 65, including nearly 200,000 who are 85+. About 80 percent own their own homes; only about 90,000 live in group settings (assisted living, nursing homes, etc). Nearly one in five lives below or just above the poverty line. There are waiting lists for such basics as home-delivered meals and transportation.