Eric Ehst, Executive Director
It’s hard to believe that this month marks the 20th anniversary of the first time a Neighbors Who Care (then Neighbors Helping Neighbors) volunteer took a homebound Sun Laker grocery shopping. And how we’ve grown during that time: from a dozen or so volunteers organized through the Interfaith Council who would take people to the supermarket once a week to the powerhouse non-profit corporation we are today with a permanent office, 1,200 registered clients, and 550 volunteers who provide 12 different vital services on almost 20,000 occasions each year. Along the way we’ve won a number of awards and become a nationally respected organization, known for both our efficiency and our compassion. I’ve received calls from groups as far away as Georgia wanting to know how we do things and how they can replicate our success. This is especially remarkable considering we are a small, community-based organization, tucked away in a corner of the valley.
We are also celebrating another milestone this month, the first anniversary of our innovative hospital discharge care program where we provide extra planning, follow-up and attention for vulnerable seniors being discharged from hospitals and rehab facilities while they recover from serious illnesses or surgeries. As of this writing we have placed 59 at risk seniors into the program and not one has had to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. The program has been so successful that Dignity Health (Chandler Regional and Mercy/Gilbert Hospitals) has renewed the small grant that partially funds it.
Despite the years, the growth and the successes, we never want to lose our focus on the people we are here to serve – people like Kay who we drove to medical appointments, delivered meals to and supported in numerous ways while she recovered from spinal surgery. And Maggie who is 85 and barely surviving on Social Security after she and her (now deceased) husband spent all of their savings on his medical bills. She is now fighting her own battle with cancer. Our volunteers take her to chemotherapy, deliver meals, help her keep her house maintained, and, every month when the money runs low, provide some free meals paid for by your donations. Our oldest client, Elizabeth, is now 102. Your support allows her to keep living independently in the home she loves, with the husband she loves.
Make no mistake; we can’t do all of this without you. Our impact is entirely due to volunteers giving their time and neighbors and local businesses making small donations. Neighbors Who Care is not a slick name from a PR campaign; it’s the essence of who we are as people and what we aspire to be as a community. Please join us.
As always, if you know of someone who needs our help or if you would like to experience the deep personal satisfaction that comes from volunteering to assist your neighbors, contact us at 480-895-7133; (www.neighborswhocare.com).