On Thanksgiving, it feels especially fitting to thank those who participated and supported our
Neighbors Helping Neighbors project.
This write up serves as a summary of results from our City of Boulder Neighborhood Partnership Spark Grant.
Our team was composed of neighbor volunteers, along with Board Members of the Gentle Passages/ Sustainable Paths Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to compassionate and affordable aging in place housing options for Boulder's active adult older population.
Our project began with the question: "Where are our at risk Boulder seniors living, and do they have an existing support system in an emergency?"
Definition of terms: "At risk" meant a Boulder resident age 65+ who has a physical condition and/or a mobility limitation, like Kenny (left) who is in a wheelchair. An "emergency" included when a senior living alone fell and couldn't get up -- who would know to come and help? An emergency also constituted a natural disaster, such as a flood or fire when the city electricity could go off.
Why We Did This Project
Our initiative was created to: 1) Help the City of Boulder be more resilient in an emergency; and 2) Create more community connections in the North Boulder neighborhood targeted for this project.
We consulted with the
City of Boulder's Senior Services Dept.
which gave us valuable input on the design and implementation of our project. The Senior Services Dept. also provided material on programs available to Boulder residents age 55+. We also received input from City of Boulder Neighborhood Liaison
who introduced us to representatives at
Boulder County Care Connect,
a non-profit association offering free services to seniors through four volunteer-powered programs.
North Boulder Launch Event
We launched our initiative with a public community event for North Boulder neighbors to discuss the idea of at risk seniors and to see how neighbors wanted to respond. The
"North Boulder Neighborhood Conversation" took place on Oct. 23, 2016 at the North Boulder Rec Center. We provided a free
lunch donated by local restaurants. Thank you to sponsors Moe's Bagels, Noodles & Company, BreadWorks and SweetCow ice cream.
We created a flyer (above right) that was hand distributed to 600 homes in a 1/2 mile area bordered by Iris and Elder Avenue and Broadway to 19th St.
About 30 citizens attended our community event (see photo left) with approximately half being seniors seeking help; the other half were primarily North Boulder residents of diverse ages who wished to offer assistance to seniors.
Michele Seipp (pictured below), Programs Director at Boulder County Care Connect (BCCC), joined our lively conversation. Her presentation was
well timed as many of the needs expressed by seniors can be met by free services offered by volunteers through BCCC programs. Services discussed included:
YardBusters to help seniors with yard work,
IceBusters to remove ice and snow from cars and driveways,
Grocery Caravan to buy food and deliver groceries to a person's home,
Medical Mobility transportation to take seniors to medical appointments, and a home repair program.
From the Oct. 23 launch event, three pairs of volunteers were excited to walk door-to door in the Garden Home Subdivision in North Boulder.
To prepare for going door-to-door, we needed something "official" to identify ourselves as Neighbors Helping Neighbors volunteers so citizens would feel safe in speaking with us. We created
badges (pictured right) and used a simple
intake form to gather information on a clipboard. We also produced a half-page
leave-behind for people we spoke with and to at the home where a neighbor on the block let us know an older person lived.
In addition, we collected a variety of handout material from senior service organizations, such as Boulder County Care Connect, City of Boulder Senior Services, Via Mobility Services, Circle of Care, Meals on Wheels, Boulder County Area Agency on Aging, Boulder County Legal Services, Dignity Care, Medicare, plus the comprehensive Boulder County Seniors BlueBook. We provided handouts at our Oct. 23 event in addition to bringing items with us while walking door-to-door (see samples left).
Elders at Risk
Because one of our project goals was to help Boulder Emergency Services know where an
elderly resident lived who may need help in an emergency,
we spoke with City of Boulder
Per the Chief's guidance, w
e designed our intake form to obtain the senior's name, address, phone number and to provide a brief description of their situation. We collected this information d
uring our walking, and identified about a dozen elders at risk. The Chief passed on the information we obtained to the City Dispatch Manager for the City Police and Fire 911 Dispatch Center for first responders. Chief Testa wrote us a kind note saying: "You and your team have done great work."
On Sunday, November 6, 2016, volunteer teams walked from Broadway to 19th St. on both the east and west side of Elder Avenue. Another team went door-to-door on Hawthorne Place covering the loop next to the Community Gardens.
Many valuable connections were made by meeting neighbors in person. Highlights follow.
* In the Garden Home Subdivision where we walked it was typical that one or two elders resided on each block.
* We connected an older couple Mary Francis and
her husband Mike with next door neighbor Mark who said he'd be happy to help with their leaves, and didn't know they needed assistance.
* We introduced Ivan, an older man getting back surgery who lives with his wife who has dementia, to Steve (see below left) a neighbor down the street who offered to help clear the snow off their driveway.
* We scheduled a home "friend visit" with Kenny, an older resident with MS who very much welcomed having occasional tea and conversation.
One of our volunteers who joined the IceBusters Program offered to regularly take snow off the car for an older man in North Boulder dealing with cancer.
* We met Suzanne, an adult daughter needing help with her aging parents and connected her with BCCC and another neighbor on her block.