Helping the elderly remain independent


September 12, 2002|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PARTNERS IN Care, a volunteer service for seniors living in their own homes, is the brainchild of three Severna Park women, Maureen Cavaiola, Barbara Huston and Sandra Jackson. It has brought light into the lives of many elderly residents who are in danger of having to leave their homes and give up their independence.

The Severna Park organization has been designated a Daily Point of Light by the Points of Light Foundation and the Volunteer Center National Network, in partnership with Knights of Columbus and the Corporation for National Service.

"We receive nominations, highlighting various volunteer activities, daily," said Robert K. Goodwin, president and chief executive officer of the Points of Light Foundation. "We search for programs that meet community needs and lead to long-term solutions ... efforts that demonstrate measurable impact."

Huston said the group received its certificate this month from County Executive Janet S. Owens, Anne Arundel volunteer director Fay Mauro and Del. Mary Ann Love, a member of the Partners In Care board.

Partners In Care volunteers help people such as an 84- year-old Brooklyn Park resident struggling to care for her husband, who has Alzheimer's disease.

Though the woman considers herself blessed, says Huston, she has nothing. Partners is sometimes able to deliver adult diapers to the couple, and the woman always writes a thank-you note, saying that she doesn't know where she'd be without Partners In Care.

"The things that we do," says Huston, "raking the lawn or handyman jobs, is enough to give her the strength to go on. We offer a little bit of extra community for these people who are using all their energies to stay in their home."

Created in 1993, Partners In Care oversees volunteers who provide transportation, grocery shopping and assistance with home maintenance for the elderly and disabled.

By donating time, volunteers earn one credit for each hour they work.

In the program's nearly 10-year history, more than 2,000 people have participated as volunteers or recipients of service.

Two years ago, Partners In Care began a High School Service Learning project at North County High School. Volunteers transported 150 students to clients' homes to do fall yard cleanup that first year. The number grew last year to 500 students. Now, Arundel and Chesapeake high schools also participate in the annual October project.

Clients see the good work young people can do and the young people see the need in their communities, says Huston. The project helps fulfill the students' community service requirements.

Partners In Care operates a gently used, upscale clothing boutique in Mariner Plaza on Ritchie Highway. The shop also carries household items, small appliances, and jewelry and wedding gowns.

At an event from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, the boutique will display its extensive collection of wedding gowns. Some gowns are previously owned, some are new, and some are designer samples in size 10.

Seamstress Suzie Reams of Bowie, known for her sewing wizardry, will be on hand to custom-fit the gowns. Reams once altered a size 10 gown to fit a size 4 bride. On another occasion, she adapted a gown for an older bride by taking the gown apart, dyeing it silver and creating a matching jacket out of the train.

Sunday's event is being catered by Annapolis After Five. Information: 410-544-0568.

If you're still looking for volunteer opportunities, Volunteer Center for Anne Arundel County Riva Road in Annapolis is a useful resource.

Fay Mauro, the center's executive director, says that during its first year, the center referred nearly 700 people to more than 130 service organizations in the county.

The center maintains a calendar of one-time events. Mauro says that the list is always changing and that in any month there are 120 opportunities to volunteer. Visit the center at or call 410-897-9207.

Partners In Care: 410-544- 4800.

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