For the first time since the Ford administration, the Howard County Office on Aging has a new director -- and she knows it will be difficult to compete with the legacy of Vivian Reid, who retired in November.
"I told [Ms. Reid] if she were a football player we would have to retire her jersey," said Phyllis B. Madachy, the new director.
Ms. Madachy, a West Virginia native who has lived in Columbia since 1974 and worked for the Office on Aging for 15 years, started her new job in November. Her biggest challenge thus far: the Blizzard of '96.
Yesterday, her office handled 30 calls from older people who needed food and medication. She also is receiving calls from people who need their driveways shoveled. Callers are given lists of professional snow diggers and volunteers near their homes.
"I have a passion for the field of aging," said Ms. Madachy, who managed the long-term care division of the office from 1991 until her recent promotion.
Said County Executive Charles I. Ecker: "She is well-grounded in county government operations and is an effective manager."
As administrator, Ms. Madachy will develop the office's yearly plan, implement programs and consult with the Commission on Aging. Her annual budget is $3.2 million. She supervises 45 full-time and part-time employees.
Ms. Madachy hopes to start programs to train "care givers," typically people who are 40 to 65 years old who take care of older relatives. She said the biggest challenge of her job is serving the elderly at a time when officials expect funding from federal, state and local governments to be reduced.
Ms. Madachy holds a master's degree in management from the Johns Hopkins University and an undergraduate degree in political science from Wheeling Jesuit College in Wheeling, W.Va.