Boulder County CareConnect believes that everyone deserves to live and age with dignity. Our volunteers provide safety net services for local seniors in need, to help them stay safe and live more independently. Our community impact is told through thousands of stories from our elder clients and the volunteers who make a difference in their lives.
Many of our clients experience isolation from friends and family. Some, however, are homebound in locations remote enough that Boulder County CareConnect is often the only interaction they’ll have all week.
Ralph, a Carry-Out Caravan client, lives in the Boulder foothills around half an hour outside of the city. The twisting, often unpaved roads leading to his home are so sub-optimal that when Ralph had a heart attack several years ago, the hospital opted to send a helicopter crew to get him rather than risk the extra time an ambulance would need.
As Ralph has lost the ability to drive, he has obviously run into difficulties staying in his home of 25 years. His wife passed away several years ago, and while his daughter lives in town and can help out to some degree, she lives on the other side of Boulder almost an hour away. Luckily, Carry-Out Caravan is there every week to deliver his groceries and provide him with companionship. Ralph’s volunteer Mike makes the hour-long trip every week on top of his other deliveries, and still takes extra time out to spend with Ralph and make sure he’s not too lonely. “We often sit down and have a little chat. And that’s nice because I’m so isolated up here,” said Ralph.
Indeed, Ralph credits BCCC for his continued ability to live in his own home. “At this point, if I didn’t have Boulder County CareConnect, I’d be in dire straits,” Ralph says. “I could of course lean to some extent on my daughter, but I don’t really know how I would solve it. So it’s a vital organization.”
When members of the community volunteer their time with Medical Mobility, they’re giving clients far more than a simple ride to the doctor.
Juanita enrolled in Medical Mobility, BCCC’s volunteer-escorted medical ride service, because she needed to make bi-weekly doctor appointments, and had neither a regular means of transportation nor family in the area to assist her. Juanita relies on a cane or metal walker and sometimes needs assistance from others when walking outside or getting into a car.
With Medical Mobility, volunteer driver Susan picks Juanita up every week, takes her to appointment, waits to take her home, and provides companionship throughout the day.
“To have someone to sit down and have good conversation with, it means a lot,” says Juanita. In fact, the two have become so close that they often plan other activities, like concerts, to attend together.
Susan also values the time spent with Juanita. “The benefit that the volunteer gets back is just immeasurable because you feel worthwhile and the clients are so appreciative of what we’re doing for them,” she says.
For many clients, the visit from a caring BCCC volunteer is the only social interaction they will have that day. The ability to receive a critical service and form a lasting friendship improves the lives of both seniors and volunteers.
On the day that Wendy left her job to go on disability and retire, she never thought she would be able to live in her own home. After being forced to move constantly as a renter for years, she finally attained Section 8 status in Boulder and became a homeowner for the first time in her life. Her new apartment needed work, however, and Wendy had no knowledge of home repair, low physical ability to work on the place, no family in the area to help, and practically no money to spend repairing it.
“I had saved money for the home, but upkeep and repairs can get very expensive,” Wendy says. “I usually don’t have money for that on my very limited income.”
Fortunately, Wendy found Boulder County CareConnect. Since 2012, Fix-It volunteers have helped make her home safer and more comfortable by installing an air conditioner, placing a grab bar in the shower, and changing smoke detector batteries and locks on doors. All of these repairs were made at no cost to Wendy. Wendy says she plans to stay in her home forever.
“I was asking myself today if I would ever be able to afford an assisted living situation or senior living. I don’t think I would,” Wendy explains. “The security I feel here is like sunshine after the rain. Boulder County CareConnect helped me maintain my independence and gave me hope when I had nobody.”
When Lon and George began living together in 2007, it was the beginning of an era for them. However, it was not certain that the house George had called home for years would work for much longer. George began to experience muscular dystrophy symptoms, severely hampering his physical ability. Meanwhile, Lon had to undergo procedures for pre-cancerous ailments, putting stress on his energy level and finances.
Consequently, home upkeep became a serious challenge as tasks like shoveling snow and weeding became both physically demanding and created falling hazards. “To me, when I trip, it’s major, so I really have to watch out,” explains George. Furthermore, if the couple doesn’t clear their property of snow in the winter and weeds in the summer, the city could cite them, or the mobile home park in which they live could evict them.
George and Lon are grateful for the help they receive from Boulder County CareConnect. Every winter, an IceBusters volunteer comes to their home to shovel the walk whenever it snows. And once spring arrives, groups of University of Colorado or high school students clear overgrowth when it gets too hazardous. George and Lon greatly value their interactions with people of a different generation.
“It’s amazing for us!” says George. “We love their energy. I think that’s one of the things that we enjoy the most through Boulder County CareConnect – the energy of the volunteers and their interest, their willingness to just talk and ask questions.”
George credits BCCC with their continued ability to stay in their home. “I was almost ready to go into a place a couple years ago. I think for at least the past two years, BCCC has helped us stay here. We want to stay in our own place for as long as we can,” he says.