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Neighbors Network Helps Senior Citizens Stay in Homes


December 24th, 2013 - A community in which neighbors help out neighbors could allow a lot of senior citizens to stay in their own homes rather than move to nursing homes. That's the idea behind the Neighbors Network. It's the first virtual village of its kind in Florida.

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Jane Staly has macular degeneration, so she has a lot of trouble seeing. Other than that, the 92-year old says she’s doing pretty well and wants to stay in her Maitland home of 40-years. She found a program through her church to help with transportation, but there was no program to help her with little things like changing a ceiling light bulb or setting up a talking watch she’d ordered. Then she heard the Neighbors Network was being launched in Maitland, Eatonville and Winter Park.

“And I thought it was a wonderful idea, being that, as a senior citizen living alone, I was in need of some kinds of services like that,” she says.

The program is currently grant funded, but the seniors who join pay a membership fee, and a team of volunteers do the work.  The goal is for the Network to eventually be self-sustaining.  When it’s working well, the seniors will not only have a network of volunteers to rely on, but the members themselves will also volunteer and help each other out as their abilities allow. Director Laura Capp says while the idea is new to Florida, it’s not unique.

“So we are locally homegrown, but based on a very well proven, tried and true national model that has been around for a dozen years,” Capp says.

Neighbors Network can’t provide any medical assistance, but volunteers can keep an eye on well-being by watching for things like stacks of dirty dishes or an empty refrigerator. The things they can help with run the gamut from a simple light bulb change to cleaning up an overgrown yard.

And Laura Capp says while no members asked for help with Christmas decorations this year, that’s something they’d be happy to help with too.  

 

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