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Mon, March 18

Caring is sharing for organization

Everybody needs somebody to share his or her life. And "it's unbelievable how many people in the area have nobody who cares about them ­ someone to provide them a genuine caring relationship."

That's the lamentable fact voiced by Fritzi Mevis, program director of People Who Care, an organization whose volunteers are doing their level best to alleviate that situation among adult residents in Prescott and Chino Valley, providing one-on-one assistance that enhances lives while helping homebound adults to stay in their own homes and remain independent while staving off the loneliness and isolation that so many people undergo.

Currently, more than 280 volunteers are assisting 400-plus people in the two communities on a regular basis. An example of their outreach, Mevis noted, involves the providing of "essential transportation" such as driving their clients to medical or business appointments and grocery shopping ("we don't get into haircuts or going to movies," she notes), along with lending a hand with such things as letter writing and medical forms, monthly bill-paying, relieving a full-time family caregiver once a week, and touching bases several times during the week by visiting the person or just to chat.

Another facet of the program, Mevis notes, is the organization's Guardian Angel Program relating to household safety to prevent falls, fires and accidents. The program is available to residents, but not required, and involves a walk-through by volunteers who check for such potential hazards as overloaded circuits, unlockable doors, the presence of throw rugs that might trip somebody with a walker, blocked exits (such as a dresser up against a door) and the installation of grab bars ("falls in bathrooms are huge," Mevis says).

"We ask an awful lot of our volunteers," she added. "They're our 'eyes and ears.'"

Age and income level are non-factors as far as participation is concerned. Due to the nature of the assistance provided, Mevis said that some 85 percent are seniors, but younger adults ‹ such as people dealing with a chronic illness or debilitating vision loss that would preclude them from driving ‹ complete the mix.

No government money is involved in People Who Care's operation, either. Rather, it relies on donations from individuals, businesses, charitable organizations such as United Way, and the area's faith community to sustain itself. In the latter regard, the Prescott United Methodist Church and the Chino Valley Community Church are donating office space, which Mevis stresses is a big help.

Mevis, along with Nancy Reynolds and Barbara McGirr, program managers in Prescott and Chino Valley, respectively, are the only paid staffers heading up People Who Care. It's an organization which, with a caring cadre of volunteers, is making life more livable for homebound and disabled adults in the two communities.

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