News From Your Neighbors – Neighbors Who Care Inc.

Ground Hog Day

Eric Ehst

Do you remember Groundhog Day, the movie, not the holiday? In it, Bill Murray awakens each morning to find that he is reliving the same day over and over again. No matter what he does the outcome is always the same. Many of our neighbors find themselves in a similar rut. Even though they can no longer drive, each day they have to find a way to get to important destinations: medical appointments, grocery stores, the bank, etc. This is especially critical for those needing regular life-saving treatments like dialysis or chemotherapy. Public transportation is nonexistent. Taxi cabs are often unaffordable. Friends and family are frequently unavailable. Isolation is bad. Lack of access to food or medical treatment is dangerous.

In many cases, Neighbors Who Care volunteers provide the solution. They are the lifeline for their homebound, frail or isolated neighbors; driving them to needed appointments, delivering meals, providing companionship and just being there in an otherwise uncaring world. The people they help often refer to them as “angels.” For them, the days may be similar, but they’re no longer as scary.

For the volunteers who run the office at Neighbors Who Care, each day is also another “Groundhog Day.” Every day, about 30 people call to schedule a ride; three or four more sign up to take a scheduled van ride to a grocery store; several inquire about being added to our client list; more want light bulbs changed, lockboxes installed, meals delivered, volunteers to sit with them while their caregivers take a break or any of a smorgasbord of other services. Many people call for referrals or recommendations. Some call just to chat. One volunteer takes the calls and logs the requests. Another spends full time calling a roster of volunteers to find those available to fill the needs. They deal with last-minute appointment changes, urgent requests and confused callers. There’s seldom a dull moment.

What I find to be amazing is that our volunteers, whether they’re in the office, swinging the hammer or behind the wheel, wouldn’t have it any other way. Helping their (very grateful) neighbors gives them a sense of purpose and fulfillment. They end each day tired but happy, knowing that they made a real difference in another person’s life.

We always manage to find a way to meet the community’s needs. Sometimes it’s hard to find an available volunteer, especially in the summertime when so many are out of town, but someone always steps up to the challenge. However, with an aging population and a growing need, we always need more volunteers to keep up with the demand.

How about you? Tomorrow’s another day! (480) 895-7133