Rep. John Taylor’s Seniors Expo: still going strong after 23 years

Seniors received free blood-pressure tests, massages and information about everything from insurance to medical technologies at state Rep. John Taylor’s annual Seniors Expo on Friday in Port Richmond.

Seniors and younger citizens alike were lined up out the door of the Cohox Recreation Center, Cedar and Cambria streets, on Friday morning when the expo opened. More than 400 residents visited the expo, now in its 23rd year.

“The most remarkable thing is how similar it is,” Taylor (R-177th dist.) said about changes to the expo over the years. “I see the same people come here year after year.”

Taylor said seniors come to this annual community event looking for resources, information and help answering their questions on medical issues to everyday quality of life concerns.

“They ask about co-pays, extraneous bills they don’t understand, or maybe just about the trash getting picked up,” Taylor said.

Among the people at the fair was George Matwiejczyk, a board member of the Acquired Brain Injury Network of Pennsylvania, who told visitors about his experiences at Moss Rehab. Matwiejczyk, 49, who uses a wheelchair, suffered a stroke when he was 36, and has been through a long rehabilitation process.

“They taught me to learn on my own, how to play sports, deal with kids, and get help for myself,” Matwiejczyk said of Moss Rehab’s staffers.

The Ladies of Port Richmond also had a table at Taylor’s expo, and were inviting attendees to come to their breast cancer-awareness event at Nazareth Hospital on Oct. 30.

This year’s expo was a special one because it marked the departure of Natalie Dillon, 61, an aide to Taylor who has helped organize all of the past senior expos. She was honored with a citation and a bouquet of roses from Taylor on Friday morning.

She said that since the expo began, the number of organizations at the event has more than tripled, from 20 to 62 tables.

“We try to incorporate all the agencies that deal with senior issues. Insurance companies, medical companies, feet doctors — everybody comes here,” Dillon said.

Port Richmond Pharmacy staffers were offering free blood-pressure tests and giving seniors printouts of their results. Flavia Masino, the pharmacy’s director of marketing and educational programs, said staffers also were spreading awareness about their Nov. 3 flu shot clinic and answering questions about the shingles vaccine.

Rosemary Walker, 73, of Port Richmond, said she spoke with an agent from Keystone Insurance about “Silver Sneakers” — a program that allows her to go to participating gyms for free.

“I do like to exercise. I’ve been slacking off a little bit, so I’m trying to get back into it,” Walker said.

Tables at the expo also were occupied by Nazareth Hospital, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, the Einstein Medical Center, the Philadelphia D.A.’s Office, Mayor Nutter’s office, SEPTA and the Social Security Administration as well as the Philadelphia Water Department and Philadelphia Gas Works.

Reporter Sam Newhouse can be reached at 215–354–3124 or at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.