The Washington Senior Expo has grown quite a bit since it was founded in 1988. Its original 40 vendors have since been joined by 100 others, and the one-day event at the Washington Crown Center is attended by thousands of seniors every September.
The expo has brought together local agencies that provide services to senior citizens for 25 years, and to celebrate its silver anniversary Thursday, Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Brian Duke spoke.
“I understand there’s over 150 organizations here to be with you today, to show their commitment and service with the Area Agency on Aging to help our older citizens across this region of Pennsylvania, and that’s important,” Duke said.
Duke talked about Gov. Tom Corbett’s new initiative called Helping Pennsylvania, which he said would help senior citizens by ensuring access to quality, affordable health care. He said the initiative includes a $50 million grant to provide home and community-based services to senior citizens.
“The largest single investment in the history of the Department of Aging shows the commitment of our current administration and our governor, as well as our legislators, to serve our fellow citizens,” Duke said.
Duke was joined on stage by Senior Expo co-sponsors state Sen. Tim Solobay; state Reps. Brandon Neuman and Jesse White; and Washington County commissioners Larry Maggi, Diana Irey Vaughan and Harlan Shober.
The expo featured a number of vendors that offered services like farmers market vouchers, health insurance counseling, flu vaccines, pneumonia shots and bone density screenings.
Many seniors came to eat cake and line dance to music performed by the Silver Sky Duo and Bobby Shawn, who has performed at the expo since it started.
Kathy Costantino, Washington County supervisor of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging, which sponsors the event, said the expo has “continued to blossom and grow” over the last 25 years. The expo started when former state representative Leo Trich, of Washington, approached the agency with the idea of bringing all senior citizen services under one roof.
“We continue to host the event because it continues to be well-received, even beyond Washington County,” Costantino said. The expo is the largest event held at Washington Crown Center, which donates space for vendors and a stage each year.
Libby Titt, 85, and Pat Boni, 65, both of Burgettstown, have been coming to the expo for years through transportation provided by their local senior center. Titt said she loves to “walk and shop” and Boni added that she enjoys seeing pepole she hasn’t seen in a long time.
Costantino said the expo serves not only as an important service for seniors, but also as a social event “because everybody comes back for it.”
“We are just so exhilarated that the event continues to be this successful and we are able to continue to host the event after all these years,” she said. “It really has become a hallmark event for Washington County.”