Providing help for seniors is mission for local group

By Tamie Meck


Providing help for seniors is mission for local group | A Little Help, Aging in Place, Seniors

Photo by Tamie Meck Dave Knutson, with the group A Little Help North Fork Valley, addresses seniors at a June 1 meeting at the Paonia Library. Other members include, from left, Steve Lyons, Kathy Thompson, Randy Campbell and Marjorie True. The organizatio

According to government census data, America's population is getting older. By 2030, Colorado's 65-and-older population is expected to grow from 555,000 to 1,243,000; Delta County is expected to increase its 65-and-older population an estimated 50- to 80-percent.

Last year, the group Aging in Place was created by a group of retired and semi-retired professionals concerned about the issues facing aging seniors. AIP announced its plans to create a network of volunteers and professional service providers to help support the North Fork area's aging citizens. The group surveyed local seniors and found that many are more likely to remain at home and independent for a longer period if they just had a little help.

AIP formed a task force to study how to help seniors remain independent, and joined Village to Village (www.vtvnetwork.org), a network of neighbors helping neighbors. Since last year, the group has been working to establish a network of volunteers and professional service providers that senior members can rely on when they need help. Having quality services readily available "lessens stress and worry while giving work to locals," said member Kathy Thompson.

Services would include transportation, yard work, plumbing and electrical, snow shoveling and other functions that require professional skills or that are difficult for seniors to perform. The network would link pre-approved, vetted service providers directly to seniors through the volunteer network.

On June 1, the group held a meeting at the Paonia Library to update the public on its progress and to announce a new partnership. In researching names for the group, Thompson discovered "A Little Help" on ColoradoGives.org, a website providing information on the state's nonprofits. ALH's mission turned out to be in line with their mission.

They contacted ALH and held a series of meetings. The Denver-based organization was impressed with how far along they were in their plans, but had concerns about the geographical distance. But they were willing to listen and had also recently added a Chaffee County branch. Based on the success of that arrangement according to an ALH newsletter, "We decided to partner our efforts with theirs."

AIP will now be known as "A Little Help North Fork Valley."

With the support of ALH, the group estimates it can reduce initial startup costs by at least $30,000. It also allows them to eliminate an initial enrollment fee of $330-$995 per person. For an annual fee, currently estimated at $225 per person and $250 per couple, members will have access to services and other benefits.

While the group was looking at taking a year to create the infrastructure, Thompson said the partnership allows them to begin providing services sooner. They are now looking for office space and to hire a local branch coordinator. The organization also needs to raise the $20,000 in startup costs and seeks donors, interested members and professional service providers. Volunteer training will be provided.

Volunteers will not provide services, said lead member Dave Knutson, a retired human resources professional. All services will be provided by professionals, who will also be paid directly. "We want to put money into the pockets of the providers, not a bureaucracy," said Knutson.

To volunteer, contact Steve Lyons at slyons@tds.net or 527-4034. For information on becoming a service-receiving member, contact Marjorie at marjorietrue@yahoo.com or 433-1856. Interested service providers can contact Dave at dave@alittlehelp.org or 260-3260. To help with outreach and communication, contact Randy Campbell at rcampbell17440@gmail.com or 260-0106, and to help with fundraising, contact Thompson at kthompson2898@gmail.com or 303-919-2029.