More than 600 attend spring Senior Times Expo

Seniors, baby boomers and a smattering of grandchildren crowded the ballroom of the Pasco Red Lion Hotel early for the April Senior Times Expo on April 19.

“They came early and stayed, talking with the various vendors,” said Mike Haugen, the event coordinator and advertising manager for the Senior Times.

Haugen said more than 600 people attended the popular event, which started more than 20 years ago and continues to grow in popularity. April’s event had 55 vendors with information on medical services, in-home care, investment information, a variety of community services like the Tri-Cities Food Bank and more.

Joy Gregg of Kennewick has attended the Senior Times Expo for about five years, although she hasn’t come for the past year or so, simply because life intervened.

“I’m glad I made it this time, there were lots of new businesses,” she said.

One company she was happy to find was All Geek, a computer, technology and network service that will pick up your equipment, get it set up and return it ready to use.

“I’m going to give them a call soon to have them set up my computer so it works for me,” Gregg said.

She said she also picked up some insurance information.

“It’s nice to be able to come here and find information without having to run around town,” she said.

Many other people agreed with Gregg that finding the information they needed in one place was convenient and they converged on the Senior Times Expo.

By mid-morning the Red Lion’s parking lot was filling up and so was the ballroom.

Several vendors who brought hundreds of pens, key rings, brochures and other freebie items ran out of the items by early afternoon.

One of those was Sherry Bravenec, an advance specialist for Sunset Gardens in Richland. She’d brought in more than 300 pens, which didn’t last long.

“Even though people are reluctant to stop and talk with me, the pens were all gone before noon,” Bravenec said.

Darlene Pinney, customer service representative and travel trainer at Ben Franklin Transit, said she’s been to at least eight of the Senior Times Expos.

“It’s a great event and gives us a chance to talk about the Dial-A-Ride and other services we offer,” Pinney said. “What I found interesting is I talked to people at this Expo who had driven up from Hermiston just to attend and get information that’s not easily available where they live.”

The Expo gives the vendors a chance to share information with people they don’t ordinarily encounter.

“It was a great day,” said Raleigh Hayter of Tri-City Orthopaedics. “The Expo was a good opportunity to meet people outside of the clinic. So often people are not talking about health care until the problem is on them. Something like this gives people the information they need to make decisions now for the future.”

The Expo also gave nonprofits like the Tri-City Food Bank a chance to recruit new volunteers and make people aware of the needs of the community.

Mike Talbot, a board member and volunteer for the three food banks, said the Expo was an opportunity to engage people, provide information about the food banks and perhaps get them interested in donating or being a volunteer.

One vendor that captured a lot of attention was ClearCaptions, which was offers captioned telephone that display incoming conversations on a screen.

The phones are free and part of a federally-funded program that’s been in place for four years.

Yet few people know about it, said Valerie Ferrin, ClearCaption’s west coast manager.

“Our demographic is the hard of hearing. With this phone they can communicate with loved ones and do business. If people can’t communicate, their health and minds deteriorate. This gives them a chance to get back into society.”

Judy Brager of Richland was one of those intrigued by the device.

“My husband spends most of his time on the phone saying, ‘What? What?’ And for those who need a boost with their eyesight the words on the screen can be bumped up to about two inches,” Brager said. “I didn’t even know something like this existed.”

The expo, which offers services and products for the older generation in a single venue, will be repeated in the fall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Pasco Red Lion.

Many of the vendors, including the Senior Times, held drawings for gift baskets and other prizes.

“Attendees were given a map of the booths as they entered, had it checked off at each booth and then the Senior Times drew names for a variety of prizes,” said Haugen.

The winning names were: Louis H. of Pasco, two tickets to the Mid-Columbia Symphony; Eileen H. of Kennewick, two tickets to the Mid-Columbia Symphony; Joyce D. of Richland, two tickets to the Mid-Columbia Symphony; Ernie G. of Richland, four tickets to the Tri-City Dust Devils; Len P. of Kennewick, four tickets to the Tri-City Dust Devils; Wilma L. of Richland, two tickets to the Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre; Ken C. of West Richland, two tickets to the Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre; Melinda T. of Kennewick, two tickets to the Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre; Pat S. of Kennewick, Senior Benefits Solutions gift basket; Joyce G. of Kennewick, All Geek wine basket; Richard D. of Richland, $25 movie gift card; Bill G. of Kennewick, $25 movie gift card;

Lynn W. of Kennewick, $25 movie gift card; Richard M. of Richland, $25 movie gift card; Joyce B. of Pasco, KTNW 50s/60s CD; John C. of Richland, Help U Move $300 gift card; Laura D. of Benton City, $25 Walgreens gift card; and Andy M. of Pasco, $25 Walgreens gift card.

Winners will be notified by telephone by Senior Times staff.

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