Help on Call provides assistance to homebound seniors

Don Zangara goes over the weekly mail with his Help on Call client. Image provided

According to the 2011 Census report, 15.3% of Montgomery County’s population is over the age of 65. As the second wealthiest and third largest county in the state, our aging population is facing challenges that cannot be met by family or social services agencies alone.

So, who will pick up the slack? “We’re hoping that everyone will realize they can spare an hour a week to help a senior remain independent” predicts Marguerite Cunning, Help on Call (HOC) program coordinator at RSVP. “It’s the perfect program for volunteering if you have an hour to spare here and there.”

Area seniors are referred to the program through social services agencies, such as Aging & Adult Services, Montgomery County Association for the Blind, Penn Care at Home and others throughout the county. (Seniors cannot call RSVP directly to request services.) A caseworker makes an assessment of the senior’s situation and needs and may send a request to RSVP for volunteer assistance with either grocery shopping, transportation to and from a doctor appointment, organizing paperwork, minor home repairs or simply visiting and connecting with a homebound senior.

Advertisement

“Many of our active volunteers have very busy lives or may even still be working. They are able to schedule with the senior directly so that timing works for them” Cunning continues.

“Of course, we have volunteers who are absolutely heroic in what they are able to help families with” reports Tina Weaver, also an HOC program coordinator. “Don Zangara is one of those volunteers who loves a challenge and has the right mix of compassion and follow through. Don is the volunteer that you wish for. He is now assisting his second family with organizing, downsizing and overseeing. He’s working with a couple in their 80’s who are living in Dresher. Both have serious health issues and they have an adult son living with them who is learning disabled. There are no other family members who live close enough to be involved in their daily lives.”

“When Don first went to visit with them he was assigned to help organize paperwork and get a handle on their bill paying. What he uncovered was a hornet’s nest of significant debt that he slowly unraveled and managed through contact with their creditors. There’s no doubt Don has gone above and beyond what we had expected but that’s how Don is with every assignment – he’s exceptional!”

The family wants to downsize to a smaller condo they were able to purchase many years ago for their son. Don is encouraging and motivating the couple to work with him as he clears clutter throughout the home.

“I am happy that I can be available to help them in any way,” reports Don. “I make recommendations based on what I see and what I feel will be the best outcome for the family based on their limited income and their current health and aging issues. It’s a very touching situation.”

The couple recognize the help Don has provided and say “He helps in every way possible and has done so gladly. He is just incredible!”

Volunteering for an area senior is about as rewarding an experience as you can have if you consider that you too may one day be in their situation.

To learn more about volunteering in the Help on Call program and learn how you can help, please contact Marguerite Cunning (610) 834-1040, ext. 10 or margic@rsvpmc.org or Tina Weaver (610) 834-1040, ext. 23 or tinaw@rsvpmc.org. To learn more about RSVP and their diverse programs visit www.rsvpmc.org.