Volunteers offer elderly, disabled help to handle home maintenance tasks


January 13, 2000|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IS TRYING TO balance on a ladder in the same category for you as scaling the side of Mount McKinley -- because, quite frankly, you're not as young as you used to be? Help may be just a phone call away.

Partners in Care, a nonprofit organization that assists elderly and disabled adults, has a Handyman Program that offers the elderly a solution to many household maintenance problems.

"Next to transporting seniors and disabled individuals to medical appointments and to get groceries, which is our No. 1 service, the most important service we offer is the Handyman Program," says Maureen Cavaiola, volunteer coordinator for Partners in Care.

Without it, some elderly householders might put safety at risk when they try to tackle even minor repairs. Or, if nothing is done to correct a small problem, they might watch helplessly as their property falls into major disrepair.

A phone call to the Severna Park organization will bring an experienced volunteer to the home of a senior citizen or disabled person to help with maintenance repairs that are too small for a building contractor, but which have become difficult for the homeowner.

Not all requests are for maintenance help.

Glen Burnie resident Vi Cosgrove, for instance, a senior who volunteers as a driver for Partners in Care, couldn't make heads or tails out of her new videocassette recorder (like a lot of us). With the help of Partners in Care handyman coordinator Ken Dunshee, Cosgrove is able to record her favorite shows when she's out on the road "driving like crazy for us," Cavaiola said.

The Handyman Program, sponsored in part by Baltimore's Harbor Hospital Center, is adding quality to the time a senior spends independently in his or her home. More than 150 county residents have received help since the program began in 1997.

Conceived by Partners in Care and the county's Department of Aging, the program was originally underwritten by a grant from United Way, which has renewed its support for this year with a grant for $18,000.

The handyman volunteer takes care of all kinds of odd jobs -- from simply changing a light bulb in a ceiling fixture to the more complicated installation of a deadbolt lock. For those who can't afford the cost of the maintenance materials, there are funds available at Partners in Care.

All the handymen (and handywomen) are volunteers, making this a perfect opportunity for individuals who don't have the finances for philanthropy -- but know how to drive a nail or climb a ladder -- to give something back to the community.

Civic groups such as the Severna Park Kiwanis Club donate time to the program.

To request help in your home or to volunteer, call 410-544-4800.

Neall to address chamber

As a preview for the 2000 Maryland General Assembly session, state Sen. Robert R. Neall, a District 33 Democrat, will give his views on "The Economic Outlook -- Dealing With Maryland's Surplus" at the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce's annual installation dinner Jan. 20 at Chartwell Country Club.

The musical group Classic Winds will entertain during the social hour, which begins at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 7 p.m.

The incoming officers are N. Scott Gardiner, president; Nancy Sabold, first vice president; Bruce Karner, second vice president; Dianna Richards, secretary; Jeff Morris, treasurer; and Michael L. Wilsman, chairman of the board.

Directors are Vicki Snyder, Karen Trettin, Cheri McCollough, Rick Sutton and James Thompson.

Information or reservations: Linda Zahn, 410-647-3900.

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