The Chore Service was initiated by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County in 1977 to fill a growing need of home repair services for the elderly and/or disabled in Bergen County. The primary goal of the Chore Service is to help the elderly and disabled remain safe in their own homes. Chore is a free service; the clients are responsible to pay only the cost of the parts.
Volunteers working with paid drivers perform Chore’s services. Chore has approximately 25 volunteer handymen and women providing service on regularly scheduled crews. Two Chore vans with a crew of two to four volunteers are on the road every workday, reaching approximately 1,400 clients every year and completing more than 2,000 household repairs.
Chore completes simple household repairs that seniors and the disabled cannot do themselves. Some of these repairs are: the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fixing leaky faucets, weatherizing doors and windows, fixing door locks, repairing broken windows and minor electrical work. The Chore Service volunteers have become quite experienced in the installation of grab bars and railings, items that are often essential for individuals recovering from illnesses and accidents and those faced with frailty associated with aging.
The volunteer staff working for Chore is a unique group of men and women. To volunteer at Chore, a person must commit to one day a week from 8:30 am to 3:00pm. The volunteers are all retired senior citizens ranging in age from approximately 60-85. Each comes to Chore with his or her own skills and expertise. They are asked to go to all kinds of neighborhoods, from the very poor to, only occasionally, the very rich, and treat each client with dignity and respect. On a regular basis they are asked to go above and beyond what is expected of them and they do so willingly and without complaint. They understand the needs of the client population and provide service with kindness and warmth. Several thank you notes enclosed provide an example of how much they are appreciated.
The achievements of Chore are noteworthy on several accounts. The Chore program addresses the needs of the senior and disabled population in several ways. They honor a person’s need to be independent, while remaining safe in their own homes. Chore addresses the fact that the price for repair service often greatly exceeds the fixed income of the client population. There are many times when the handymen and women are asked to do a small task like changing a light bulb. Clearly there is no one to hire to do such a task, but it is of the utmost importance to the client’s safety and well-being.
In addition to keeping seniors and the disabled safe in their own homes, Chore provides an opportunity for retired people to work on a volunteer basis. Volunteerism fulfills a need for those wishing to help others and give back to their community. It is also a chance for volunteers to develop new long lasting relationships with their peers, and the camaraderie among Chore volunteers is delightful. The crews also provide the clients, many of whom are isolated and living alone, someone to talk to. Chore is a program that touches the senior and disabled community with integrity and kindness.