Eric Ehst, Executive Director
Recently I was in Gilbert at a meeting of East Valley senior service providers. As soon as I introduced myself as being from Neighbors Who Care another attendee spoke up, “My grandmother lives in Sun Lakes and you take such good care of her!” Then the moderator asked somewhat incredulously, “And you do all of this for free?” Before the meeting ended two other people came up to tell me that NWC cares for their relatives or friends and to compliment us on the outstanding job we do.
This was not an isolated incident or in any way unusual. Wherever I go, anywhere in the Valley, I invariably get one of two comments. I either hear about a loved one or acquaintance whose life has been touched, or even “saved,” by the volunteers of Neighbors Who Care. Or I hear some version of, “I wish there was an organization like yours where my mother/grandmother/friend lives.”
We are periodically visited by representatives from charitable foundations, city agencies and other service organizations. The tours almost always last twice as long as scheduled so we can cover everything we do and are followed by comments such as, “I had no idea you did all of that.” “Your volunteers are amazing.” And the ever-popular, “I really wish there was an organization like yours where my mother lives.”
To the people of Sun Lakes and south Chandler, Neighbors Who Care is not a secret. What is not so generally known is the breadth of our services or the profound effect we have on the lives of those we serve. We now have over 500 volunteers helping about 1500 clients. Demand is increasing as we add about 30 new clients each month and as they continue to age. About 40 percent are now over 85, with 75 percent over 75. Over two-thirds of them live alone, many with no local family to help out and without enough money pay for all of the care they need. That’s what makes us so vital. In their own words: “Thank you for coming to my rescue!” “I know we couldn’t have made it without your help.” “Thank you for the wonderful support you provided to my grandfather.” “I can never thank you enough.” “Without your help and kindness, I’d be in a home.”
Even as we work to meet the demand we’re finding new ways to improve. We now provide free meals when clients can’t afford them. We provide an extra layer of support to frail seniors discharged from hospitals and rehab centers. We are experimenting with new ways to keep our homebound clients socially connected and active.
Our community is lucky. Neighbors Who Care is truly a world-class organization on the cutting edge of providing cost effective community-based solutions to the challenge of caring for our aging population. Our volunteers are among the best and most caring people in an increasingly hostile world. We’d love to have you join us; www.NeighborsWhoCare.com; 480-895-7133.