By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — What began as a simple idea among several local churches and community members has grown into a widespread network of volunteer support and help.
Community Caregivers of Greater Derry celebrates 25 years of offering services to help elderly and disabled residents remain independent in their homes.
The organization now serves many towns across the region, with a volunteer network of supporters who do various tasks to help those in need.
Executive director Cindee Tanuma said the group is going strong, bringing help and hope to countless elder and disabled clients.
“Sometimes we are the only people in someone’s life who listens with out judgment or interruption,” Tanuma said.
Volunteers range in age from high school students up to older individuals. They are matched with a particular client based on what the client needs most. Sometimes it’s a visit for light housekeeping or shopping; at other times, it’s a need for transportation to a medical appointment.
Sometimes it’s just to be there to offer companionship.
Caregivers’ volunteers have logged more than 235,000 volunteer hours since the group started officially tracking in 1992. In the past year, people have driven clients approximately 100,000 miles to get to appointments. Also In the last year, 450 volunteers helped 325 people.
It’s a win/win situation for both sides of the relationship, Tanuma said.
“It helps the individual with a task he or she now finds difficult or impossible to do,” she said. “It also helps the volunteer fill that need to give back.”
Caregivers is funded by grants, the towns it serves, Granite United Way, private donors, civic organizations, businesses, churches and other supporters.
Jobs handled by volunteers range from light housekeeping and shopping to home upkeep and transportation.
Nancy Pierce has worked with Caregivers for many years. She said it’s an important mission.
“It makes me give back to the community and help folks who really need help,” Pierce said.
Tanuma said local businesses and companies are also jumping on board, offering their employees a chance to take part in volunteer activities and community outreach.
“Companies are encouraging people to give back,” she said.
In addition to the volunteer network, Caregivers offers a busy Loaner’s Closet where people can borrow medical equipment to use, or bring their unused wheelchairs, walkers or other items to donate. Right now, the Closet has about 5,000 items available to loan.
“We do about 13,000 loans a year,” Tanuma said.
To celebrate its 25th year, volunteers, clients and supporters will enjoy a party at the Aviation Museum on Oct. 19. A gala evening and auction are planned for Oct. 24 at Zorvino Vineyard in Sandown.
For information about Caregivers, call 432-0877 or visit comcaregivers.org.Community Caregivers of Greater Derry celebrates 25 years of providing volunteer assistance to help elderly and disabled residents maintain their independence.