Daily Point of Light # 2353 Feb 10, 2003

Community’ Caregivers of Greater Derry is a nonprofit agency serving elderly, disabled and chronically ill residents of six communities through a network of caring volunteers. These volunteers enable the clients to remain independent in their own homes by providing free assistance with transportation, light chores, visiting, respite, grocery shopping, and telephone reassurance. Volunteers receive no pay for their time. Caregivers was founded in 1988 by a group of people from the community and local churches who saw a need for volunteer services to supplement existing programs and to provide services not available at all or not affordable to many. Last year 145 volunteers helped 197 people. Over the past 14 years, Caregiver volunteers have helped nearly 1000 people. A primary need in this area is transportation, particularly for medical appointments. There is no public transportation. Many people are too frail or ill to utilize public transportation even if it did exist. Other services provide local van transport, but all may require payment, advance reservations or only transport to their location or specific locations on designated days. Some residents are patients with doctors outside the Derry area. These destinations are reachable only by cab or private vehicle. Volunteers also provide rides to kidney dialysis and to radiation therapy. Other people rely on volunteers to shop for them, pick up prescriptions, put in screens or storm windows, do laundry or light cleaning, or just stop in to visit once a week. Some clients also volunteer. For five years one elderly woman who received rides, grocery shopping and light chores herself, called another client at 8 a.m. every weekday. One Monday she did not call. The call receiver became concerned and called our office. The police and fire departments were dispatched and found the caller on the floor where she had been for two days. She had no family, and without doubt she would have been on the floor until her shopper arrived on Thursday. She recovered and thereafter called seven days a week instead of five. They coordinate volunteer efforts with high school students, youth groups, Scout troops, and local company employees who choose one day every fall to rake leaves, clean gutters and fix storm windows. Members of RSVP, AARP, Easter Seals and the SHARE program are Caregiver volunteers. Another volunteer is a Region 10 client. For two years, accompanied by her caseworker, she has done laundry and light chores for an elderly woman. She herself receives rides once a week. Each volunteer helps alleviate community issues of loneliness, isolation and an insufficient number of services. With a little help people live with dignity and independence and remain connected community members. In 2001, volunteers gave 6,059 hours of their time. Of those hours, 32% was spent on grocery shopping, 27% on transport and 22% on light chores. Volunteers drove 23,905 miles or almost four round trips to Los Angeles. One round trip for dialysis costs approximately $32 by cab or $5,000 per year for three treatments per