Looking Out for Senior Citizens in Mount Vernon

Looking Out for Senior Citizens in Mount Vernon

Barbara Sullivan leads organization that helps residents age in place.


Barbara Sullivan

Barbara Sullivan:

Executive Director, Mount Vernon at Home (MVAH)

Married to Barry Sullivan

Children: Brendan, Barry Jr. and Bryan

Professional Certification: Licensed Long Term Care Administrator

Prior Employment: Assistant Administrator, Paul Spring Retirement Community

Founded in 2007, Mount Vernon at Home now has almost 200 dues-paying members. Barbara Sullivan has served as the executive director since 2010. The MVAH mission is “to build a village of friends and volunteers offering solutions to support the lifetime independence of members to allow them to age in place.”

MVAH relies almost entirely on private contributions and membership dues. The one exception is the county, through the Sherwood Regional Library, provides office space. But, as Sullivan said, “Our doors are always open to the library patrons or anyone, and it is a rare day when we are not approached with questions about housing, health care, home repair providers, where to look for financial advice, etc. We don’t turn anyone away and feel we are an important partner with the county government in helping residents.”

“Barbara is a fierce advocate for the elderly,” said Teresa Dixon, administrator for the Paul Spring Retirement Community. “Our seniors already face so many obstacles. Barbara believes the county government has an obligation to make services easily accessible to senior citizens in all districts of the county.”

Colleague Mary Carroll Potter said, “Barbara is amazing; always calm, she readily offers helpful and wise advice. Earlier this week for instance, I told her about a member who had suffered a fall and was in pain. Although she was in the middle of dealing with a demanding schedule that day she immediately reached out to help.”

Commenting on the election for the open Mount Vernon District supervisor seat, Sullivan said, “The upcoming supervisor election is so important to us. Our next Mount Vernon supervisor will need to help us look for creative new ways to promote partnerships with other private organizations and government agencies. More public money for seniors transportation services would be nice but it is unrealistic to expect government money when education and other county services are also looking for increases. Raising the property taxes is not the answer since that hurts seniors who are on fixed incomes. Part of the answer is creative use of the partnership concept. Also, more carefully planned new communities that are walkable and accessible for seniors. Expanding mass transit systems along the Route 1 corridor will help but it is not enough.

“In my view our biggest challenge and that of the incoming new supervisor in the coming years is to successfully integrate Mount Vernon with the rest of the county. We need to be a major player in the county’s priorities for economic development to bring more attention to Mount Vernon. Also, we need to devote special attention to the poorly performing public schools. We need a Mount Vernon-area community college program so our young students have that option when they finish high school. We also need to have a locally-based adult continuing education program offering a wide variety of course offerings. Our residents, and especially seniors shouldn’t have to drive 30 miles or more to the county courthouse, government center, or to use the education services that are now only provided to residents in the northern or western part of the county.”