A new group has formed in Chatham County that gives professionals offering services to senior citizens an opportunity to network and share ideas on a regular basis.

CHESS (Chatham Health and Eldercare Senior Services) meets the fourth Wendesday of every month from 8:30 – 9:30 am in the auditorium at Galloway Ridge.

The objective of the group is to provide networking and educational opportunities for senior related professionals while positively impacting the aging population in Chatham County and the surrounding area,” according to the group’s mission statement.

At the latest meeting Nov. 28, about 45 professionals gathered to network with one another before hearing a presentation by two audiologists from Now Hear This, a Relaigh-based business that has clients in Chatham County.

CHESS Steering Committee Co-Chair Pat Richardson said membership in the group is very simple.

“They don’t have to pay a fee,” she said, “They just show up and network with other professionals that provide services to seniors. This is a wonderful story of our community and professionals being innovative on how to best serve a population that often times is overlooked.”

The group is also option to seniors in the community who would like to attend and make contact with professionals or hear the speaker on a particular topic.

The group was founded in April by Galloway Ridge and the law firm of Walker, Lambe, Rhudy, Costley and Gill, PLCC, based in Durham, which practices in many areas of elder law. The firm has clients both at Galloway Ridge and nearby Fearrington Village.

The firm approached Galloway Ridge about hosting the event.

“They felt it was a good way to bridge the gap between these organizations and bring the various senior service professionals under one roof once a month,” Richardson said.

The professionals and groups include retirement communities, financial planners, estate planners, home health care providers, nursing home representatives, physicians and nonprofits providing services to seniors.

Penny Thompson, a resident of Fearrington Village, comes from a background in home health services. She enthusiastically endorses CHESSS and says she has already learned about services she will use as part of a church group.

“It gives the agencies the opportunity for other agencies to know what you do,” she said. “This helps get the word out about the services that seniors want or need, and also for family members, services to make seniors’ life more enjoyable and improve their quality of life.”

She said networking also helps senior service providers keep informed about new devices.

“There are all kids of technological advances you can learn about,” she said, “such as vision aids, just to give an example.”

The next meeting of the group is the holiday reception, 4-6 p.m., Dec. 19, at the Galloway Ridge Auditorium. It is open to the public but those planning to attend are encouraged to RSVP by December 14 to Pat Richardson by calling 919.642.6893 or emailing at prichardson@gallowayridge.com.

At present the group is being guided by a 10 person steering committee with Richardson and Anne Browning of Homewatch Caregivers serving as co-chairs. It is growing quickly though – the last meeting had 13 new participants – and could eventually seek nonprofit status if the growth continues.

CHESS is also seeking to give back to the community through a food drive for the CORA Food Pantry Collection drives are underway at the Duke Center for Living, through Galloway Ridge employees, and many of the participating CHESS businesses.