Mother Teresa famously said “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
This current virus pandemic means for some of us that we can help make the situation a little better by helping at least one other person. In my Scottsdale Mountain community, we are doing just that with an effort called Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
I began this outreach program in our immediate community several years ago by modeling it after the services provided by Duet Arizona. Well over 20 neighbors quickly volunteered to help. Duet helped by sending several of us on the committee through their training program to ensure we know and use best practices about going into neighbors’ homes.
Our mission has been to support our elderly and homebound neighbors by lending a helping hand and assisting their wellbeing through volunteer home services. We have gone shopping, picked up mail, made friendly telephone calls and generally provided contact with the outside world to some who have no other people to help them.
We provide home visits and respite care, now staying at least six feet away, but still reassuring others that we care about them with a friendly face and comforting words.
One hurdle to overcome for our neighborhood is that people often do not ask for help. It’s understandable. We all want to remain independent and not admit that we are challenged to get by each day. This is particularly true for our elderly neighbors.
Right now, I see them struggling while traveling up and down the aisles at our local grocer to buy sometimes scarce staples and food for the day or the week.
The shortage on shelves causes them anxiety.
That’s where our Neighbors Helping Neighbors group has stepped in. We are still voluntarily helping by obtaining a shopping list, going to the store, and bringing back the needed items, thus eliminating some of the stress and even danger from germs unwittingly left by previous shoppers.
We know that older adults and others suffering from underlying illnesses are most vulnerable to the virus.
I urge individuals in HOA’s or neighborhood groups to reach out to elderly or physically impaired people living at least on your block. I know that some other homeowner associations have also established outreach committees.
Find out if your neighbors need something, and if you are able, get it for them. If a number of people help care for those living nearby, there will be a ripple effect that can serve many. This simple act changes Scottsdale, one person at a time.
For further information on how to get started, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact our Scottsdale Mountain Program Director, Nancy Zikias, at email@example.com.
Also, Duet is looking for volunteers and has a wealth of information on its website at duetaz.org.
Editor’s Note: Suzanne Klapp is an elected member of Scottsdale City Council and candidate for mayor.