Tag Archives: United Way

A Helping Heart

Vantage Point: Have a Helping Heart this Valentine’s Day

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”  – John Holmes

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate loved ones. But what about seniors in our communities that don’t have a sweetheart? Winter can bring on depression and feelings of isolation, especially if one is living on a small fixed income that, if no other catastrophe happens, barely covers basic needs.

What if during this year’s season of love, we gave the gift of time and attention to someone who has nothing to give back but gratitude? If this call speaks to you, look to the Catholic Family and Child Volunteer Chore Service Programs, run by Amber Bryant in Wenatchee and Tammy Huber in Moses Lake.

The volunteer program, funded by federal grants, the United Way and Serving Wenatchee, is based on volunteer hours. It can be direct services, such as cleaning a senior’s home, shoveling snow, delivering a hot meal, or providing transportation, or indirect services such as clerical work or, like Health Alliance staff did this winter, donating winter coats, blankets, and hand sanitizer.

If you are interested in volunteering, a coordinator will ask the amount of time you can give and ask what kind of tasks you’re comfortable with. Both Amber and Tammy have many creative ways they can utilize volunteer hours.  One successful idea is enlisting groups, such as coworkers from an office or members of a club. Many hands make light work and volunteers are more comfortable entering someone’s home in a group setting. Plus, the project helps groups work as a team.

One misconception about the program is that you have to be Catholic to volunteer. This is not true and you don’t even have to share your religion. Beyond finding people to volunteer, coordinating the program presents many challenges including serving the mentally ill, those living in extreme poverty, and those with adult children who reside in the home. I am in awe of Amber and Tammy’s passion, as they both volunteer in addition to coordinating the program.

If you are someone who has time and a helping heart, please contact Amber at 509-662-6761, abryant@ccyakima.org  or Tammy at 509-765-1875, thuber@ccyakima.org . They will find a way to match you to a client or project that can create great joy for all involved.

Who Can You Call? 2-1-1

Long View: Who You Gonna Call? Think Three Little Numbers

I have a good friend at Carle who seems to have all the answers. Let’s call her Sue. Sue is a great resource for me any time I have a question about Carle. She knows the department heads, where the various offices are and how things really work. She is a seasoned and respected contact for me (and many others, I am sure). It makes me wonder where average Joes can turn when they need information and resources.

It turns out there is a place to call – 2-1-1.

The program in Central Illinois is run by PATH, Inc. (Providing Access to Help), which provides services for seniors, people who are homeless and people in need of all ages. Their offices are located in beautiful Bloomington. The PATH website describes the 2-1-1 system this way: “United Way 2-1-1 is for times of crisis, as well as for everyday needs. 2-1-1 call specialists are available 24/7 to help individuals locate health and human services in their area—from mortgage, rent, and utility assistance to food, clothing, emergency shelter, counseling, and much more.”

I spoke to Jennifer Nettleton at PATH. She is the 2-1-1/Crisis Services program manager. Many times when we need help, we need it fast.

Nettleton told me, “2-1-1 helps stop the run-around between social service agencies. Rather than calling every agency in the phone book to find out if they have the services you need, you can now call one place to help get you that information.”

Funding for the program is provided in part by United Way organizations around the state. Our local service area covers 12 counties and one city with another 20 in the pipeline. Many other states have this program in place, so Illinois is making up for lost time.

Find out more about the program. I think many people in need, perhaps some of them Health Alliance Medicare members, will be comforted to know a resource is available 24/7. Of course I could just give Sue’s phone number to everyone, but I fear she might not be my friend anymore.