Growing Older Together offers community aid to seniors
REGION — Operating within Wayne and western Sullivan County since the beginning of January, Growing Older Together (GOT) is a member of the Village-to-Village network and a 501(c)(3) all-volunteer organization—serving as a circle of friends and neighbors who are on call to help seniors with day-to-day activities and necessities, such as transportation, social visits and chores around the house. Using the slogan “Hand in Hand: Linking Lives,” GOT’s goal is to provide “residents aged 60 and older both the practical means and the social connections to live independently in their homes.”
“We are an organization that focuses on building community, not just among people who are 60 and older, but among our volunteers, who can be any age, and our members,” says Marcia Nehemiah, president of GOT. “Our goal is to have relationships develop among members, and among volunteers and members, so that people have a sense that they have someone in their corner to call on for help if they should need it… Many of our members at this point are very active, vibrant people. They tell us that they are just glad to know that they have someone they can call if an emergency should arise—but I also like to tell members that they can request a volunteer for some very simple tasks that just require a second pair of hands.
“For example, if a member wants to hang an array of family photos, he or she might want to have a second opinion about what looks good where, so you can request the help of a volunteer who might be interested in doing that kind of thing... Our volunteers not only help people who have health issues or who are finding it harder to perform some tasks, but anyone who becomes a member.”
Volunteers and members, and those who serve in both capacities, can help or are helped based on their individual capabilities and skills.” This is my community experience, something that I want to be a part of,” says volunteer Aleta Kahn. “As it develops, I can envision possible needs that I could supply. I don’t know what [those] might be, but I’m willing to grow with the community as it grows… [GOT’s] role will be to fill in the gaps that personal family and friend contacts can’t, or [when] the medical/social connections aren’t enough… As we get older, we need more help, and this is one of the places that we can turn to [that won’t make us] feel patronized or deficient. We’re just finding different ways to maintain our independent lifestyles.”
“There are people I know who have needed some small things to be taken care of,” says member Iris Helfeld. “Whether it’s changing batteries and you have to get up on a ladder… or whether you need to get to a doctor’s appointment. I have not needed any of the services at this particular time, I am just very in favor of it, and my membership was [intended] to be a support to the group, because I think it’s such an important thing for people who are getting older.”
Because the program is in its early stages, GOT is concentrating on providing a very strong foundation for its service area before expanding into other territories. Before the official launch, GOT hosted a number of events, including lectures and presentations, and will continue to do so. But now, volunteers and members alike are looking forward to what the future of the organization will bring. “I have to tell you how rewarding it is,” says Nehemiah. “The members seem to be very happy with the services that volunteers are providing. We’ve had a number of social events where people seem to have a lot of fun, building community, learning about each other.”
For more information about Growing Older Together and its services, or how to become a volunteer, a member, or both, visit got.clubexpress.com, call 570/630-0509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.