GLOVERVILLE — Two political candidates who will be on the South Carolina ballot in November told a group of senior citizens at the Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center on Thursday morning that improving the lives of the elderly is a priority in their campaigns.


“You have served us well, you have worked hard, and you deserve to enjoy your golden years,” said S.C. House District 84 Democratic candidate Rosie Berry, who also reminded her audience that it was National Senior Citizens Day.


S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, who is running as the Democratic candidate for S.C. lieutenant governor, talked about his six-point plan to help meet the needs of seniors.


It includes making sure that transportation services are adequate, advocating the passage of tax-relief packages for caregivers and the creation of a senior fraud task force.


“I support what Bakari was saying,” Berry said. “To me, it is important that senior citizens are recognized for the value that they add to our community, that we appreciate them with respect and that we provide them with security and safety in their neighborhoods and homes. Their medical concerns also need to be addressed, and we should support the families who support and love their seniors. We cannot grow this state unless we take care of our old, as well as our young.”


Berry worked as a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal and an assistant superintendent in the Aiken County public school system before her retirement after more than 30 years of service.


She is the executive director of the Summerhill Community Resource Center, which offers activities for senior citizens among its programs.


One of Berry's goals is to make sure that senior centers in small towns and rural areas continue to operate and receive necessary funding even though the number of clients they attract might be small compared to centers in areas with higher populations.


“We shouldn't look at numbers; we need to look at quality, not quantity,” she said. “These seniors in small towns and rural communities have a routine in their lives where they only have to drive a couple of blocks each day to get what they need physically and mentally to stay vibrant.”


Sellers agreed.


“Rural centers are vital in providing the dignity, friendship and feeling of community that seniors need,” he said.


Sellers and Berry also visited Second Providence Baptist Church in North Augusta to discuss issues that affect senior citizens.


Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.