Auntie Diluviana: How to help Aging in Place

September 13, 2013

- AUNTIE DILUVIANA -

– AUNTIE DILUVIANA –

Auntie is taking a few days off to read Ulysses, but we’ve been reading her mail. Leigh Higgins, an able volunteer with Hyattsville Aging in Place (HAP), will answer this month’s letter in Auntie’s stead.

Dear Auntie,

 I’ve wanted to help Hyattsville Aging in Place, the local nonprofit I’ve heard about that aims to help local seniors live in their own homes.  But what with many demands on my time I only have an occasional couple of hours in the afternoon. I want to help but I don’t want to get overwhelmed. Is it possible to do it “my way”?

Timeless Tallulah

Dear TT:

Absolutely. This is the beauty of the HAP volunteer network. Once you are in place as a volunteer, you will be able to accept any opportunities that work for you. There is no required time commitment; you simply give what you can.

HAP has been filling requests since February of this year. Anybody who is over 60 and lives within the Hyattsville city boundaries is eligible for help from the HAP volunteers. In July, the busiest month yet, volunteers gave neighbors 17 rides (mostly to weekday doctor’s appointments). But HAP provides other services too. Recently, volunteers took several neighbors to an evening concert at Riversdale Mansion.

HAP needs more volunteers, especially those who are able to drive weekdays.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can contact HAP by calling 301.887.3101 or sending an email to hapcares@gmail.com. A member of the Volunteer Steering Committee will be in touch about how to complete a background check and training session.

You tell HAP the kinds of services you are able to offer and times of the week you are available. Then, as service requests come in from neighbors, you will receive an email with the time and date of the service request. If it works for you, simply say yes! If not, just be patient and someday your chance will come.

My experience as a volunteer with HAP has been overwhelmingly positive. The people who founded HAP have put in an enormous effort behind the scenes and have created a very efficient yet adaptable framework. They have always been open to new ideas, appreciative of help and willing to step up quickly and support their volunteers. I have driven neighbors to medical appointments several times over the summer and have learned something new each time.

My young children have ridden along, which often makes for some lively conversation in the car. We all appreciate the opportunity to meet neighbors we might not otherwise encounter. As a relatively new Hyattsville transplant, I quickly found a supportive network of young families here. Volunteering with HAP has expanded our community to include older neighbors. Not only has it been a very satisfying volunteer experience, but I feel lucky to be meeting so many other caring members of this growing Hyattsville community.

I hope that you take this opportunity with HAP. Even if you only have a few hours to give, they will be hours well spent for you and very much appreciated by a neighbor. The more neighbors who step up to help, the more we can help keep Hyattsville a supportive home for people of all ages.