Additional Statementsby Senator Roy Blunt
Posted on 2013-02-14
BLUNT. Mr. President, for 40 years, there has been no
greater advocate for Southwest Missouri seniors than Dorothy Knowles.
As executive director of the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging,
Dorothy's leadership and motivation have inspired a talented and
spirited staff to help seniors understand issues and offer a variety of
resources. When Medicare part D arrived, it was Dorothy who voluntarily
began the effort to educate seniors on the options and advantages in
the new program. Thanks to her actions, the Southwest Missouri Office
on Aging became and continues to be the premiere source of information
on that program and others for seniors.
When Dorothy Knowles began work as a secretary and bookkeeper at the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging, it was brand new. A single mother in need of a job, Dorothy saw the new agency as an opportunity. She rose through the ranks and learned the agency's needs and programs as director of social services and as associate director. Her boss during those years was her mentor, Winston Bledsoe. Winston started with a $25,000 grant to open the first 9 senior centers in the region, creating a daily meeting place for 40,000 seniors. When Winston retired in 1999, his deputy Dorothy took charge, armed with 25 years of experience in providing senior services, advocacy, and a keen understanding of how to stretch a dollar.
Dorothy has never missed an opportunity to expand services and outreach and provide seniors with opportunities to improve the quality of life for older Americans. During 2012, there were 38 senior centers serving more than 370,000 meals to seniors and 700,000 home-delivered meals in 17 counties. Today there are services to support caregivers, respite relief, transportation, housekeeping, legal outreach, and even services to help seniors file income taxes.
In 2005, Medicare added prescription drug coverage, creating an on- line ordering process and regulations seniors had never experienced. Dorothy immediately saw the need to educate seniors so they could take advantage of this service to acquire vital medicines. Self taught and without additional funding, she led the staff at the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging to become the best resource for Medicare part D information anywhere. Working with my congressional office, Dorothy led her new experts on Part D into seminars and signup clinics in every county of Southwest Missouri. Every year since then, they have remained the premiere source of part D expertise.
I have worked with Dorothy Knowles and know the commitment, dedication, and joy she takes in serving our senior population. I doubt her retirement will be the end of her enthusiastic advocacy for Southwest Missouri seniors. She will still weigh in on elder abuse laws and senior wellness funding and will still instill that unrelenting zeal she has to champion senior causes in her 150 member staff and colleagues. I wish her, and the agency she helped craft into a bastion of senior advocacy, the best in the decades ahead. Southwest Missouri is a better place for seniors to live thanks to Dorothy Knowles and her four decades of service at the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging.