By Yolanda Hobbs
Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. (CHAI)
Senior Home Repair Coordinator
Does anyone remember the Hair Club for Men commercial where they say, “I’m not just the owner, I’m a member too?” I like to use that statement for my involvement with CHAI’s Adopt-a-Neighbor ongoing program.
I’m paid by CHAI to ensure seniors in need of home repairs are able to receive them, but I also like the feeling of physically helping the seniors in our community myself. CHAI’s Adopt-a-Neighbor program interested me because it isn’t a program where we help people for just one day; the goal of the program is to help seniors throughout the year. We weatherize windows, change fire alarm batteries and maintain yards. But more important, by adopting a senior, and volunteering several times a year with them, we establish on ongoing relationship and build companionship.
Because I believe in this program, I added myself to the volunteer list and assigned myself to a couple of seniors specifically, for the purpose of establishing an ongoing rapport which could lead to companionship. Some seniors are lonely, so providing them a joyful conversation is just as important as changing light bulbs or putting plastic on their windows in the winter. I couldn’t see myself scheduling and assigning volunteers to seniors if I couldn’t roll up my sleeves and be involved too.
Volunteering with Adopt-a-Neighbor is easy:
1. People can choose to volunteer as individuals, families or as VolunTeams.*
2. Volunteers merely need to contact me with interest in the program and after a background check; they will be matched with a senior client.
3. Once matched, volunteers coordinate a first meeting date that is convenient for both them and the senior.
4. Once a date is scheduled, supplies are delivered to the senior client’s home by CHAI staff so the volunteer will have all the necessary tools needed.
5. Upon project completion, the tools and supplies are picked up from the senior’s home by CHAI staff so the volunteer is free to enjoy the rest of their day. 6. Volunteers are expected to visit their adopted seniors at least twice a year, but are not limited to the amount of visits they may make.
You can Adopt-a-Neighbor too. All you have to do is contact me at 410-500-5314 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to answer any questions or alleviate any concerns you might have.
*Jewish Volunteer Connection is available to help create VolunTeams and they can be found at jvcbaltimore.org.