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Nancy Donahue serves Austin’s senior citizens

By Roger Boughten

Unsung heroes are those who make a real difference in the shadows of the community. They are those special heroes who make the non-profits hum, the charities flourish and the small businesses prosper. You never read about them in the local newspaper or see them on television, but you benefit from their dedication to their work and their ability to make their contribution to the community and their neighbors lives a little better.

Today I share with you the story of a very special person by the name of Nancy Donahue. You will find her in her office at the Mower County Senior Center. She heads a program called Mower County Senior Advocacy. Nancy provides information assistance for seniors (60 and over) living in Mower County. In today’s world, families are often split apart by miles with the senior in Austin and family members living out of state.

The seniors have Nancy to answer questions on topics such as Medicare issues, completion of forms for property taxes, telephone and prescription assistance, housing applications, health insurance counseling, transportation options and advanced directives for health care.

In today’s world, the fear of financial issues is one of the greatest obstacles a senior confronts. Seniors today are out living their money. Twenty-five years ago, someone in their 80s was old, not anymore. Today Nancy serves individuals well into their late 80s with most of the time spent informing clients about the many programs they can qualify for if they have the information. She has the information and is willing to share.

Is there a need for this type of service? Eighteen percent of the population in Mower County is 65 and over. Twenty-three percent of the people of Austin are 60 years of age or older. The information services that Nancy provides changes lives and there is no charge for this assistance. To run the program, Nancy receives grant money from private donations, Mower County, Southeast Minnesota Area Agency for Aging, United Way and the Austin HRA. It is a partnership that works to lower stress and provide answers to seniors’ questions. Nancy worked with 830 individuals this past year answering questions, connecting clients to various agencies and being supportive when the seniors needed advice.

One wonders what Nancy’s background is and how she got interested in this type of career. She grew up and went to school in Watertown, Minnesota.

She married and followed her husband when he accepted a position in Austin. Her first employment included a position with the senior volunteer program at SEMCAC prior to her joining the Mower County Senior Center and becoming an advocate for seniors. She has been at the senior center since November of 1988. Nancy Donahue is one of our unsung heroes in Austin. She makes a difference in people’s lives.