A coalition of representatives from eight human service agencies, 13 area congregations and four community organizations from seven rural towns in central Yavapai County, AZ convened in the spring 1996 to discuss how they could more effectively help the homebound, elderly and disabled in their rural community. Minimal services existed for the homebound in the rural communities along the Highway 69 corridor from Prescott Valley to Cordes Lakes, AZ, a 45-mile stretch of highway with a combined population of some 30,000. According to census data, 28% of the citizens in this area are 65 or older.
Neighbor to Neighbor (NtN) is an Arizona nonprofit volunteer interfaith caregiving program formed in 1996 to address the needs of the elderly/disabled identified such as transportation to and from medical and business appointments, shopping assistance, business help, respite care, handyperson/chore service and visiting to alleviate isolation and depression. From 1996 to 1997, 60 volunteers served 3,105 hours and drove 9,740 miles to help their neighbors.
In 1998, NtN entered into a partnership with the Yavapai County Health Department to do case management for the rural elderly and has advocated for services with other agencies, helped get needed medical services and assisted with the family process of making some tough decisions for the most incapacitated rural elders along the Corridor. NtN also opened a social day-center for seniors. Additionally, in September of 1998, NtN began working with four other agencies to do county-wide community education to help identify the most isolated elderly who may be experiencing behavioral health problems and Alzheimer’s. In 1998, NtN experienced an almost 100% growth factor, more than 100 volunteers served more than 5,700 hours and drove 17,000 miles.
All NtN volunteers attend an initial 2-hour training and orientation session. Each volunteer must provide at least 3 references and is covered for liability under the program’s insurance policy. Volunteers continue their training and personal growth by attending periodic workshops that cover topics related to aging such as depression, communication skills, working with memory-impaired adults, death and dying.
NtN is committed to establishing working partnerships within the community that bridge the gap in services to the rural elderly and homebound as well as raising consciousness about the issues of aging. NtN considers itself as a low-cost, high-impact program. The program is funded by individual contributions, member congregations, business, foundation grants and fundraising events.