Harley raffle to benefit seniors

Fund-raiser goes toward phone check program

March 16, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

It's sporty, speedy and sleek, and it might just keep a cash-strapped program for homebound seniors running for another year.

Seniors Keep in Touch, a program that reaches out by phone to about 80 residents a day, will benefit from the raffle of a 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle next month.

"Right now, we are bone dry with no grant money available," Patricia Owen, phone project coordinator, said. "We really need to keep this program going. It is so important to our seniors."

Owen and one assistant made almost 20,000 calls last year, helping seniors connect with meals, medicines, housing and, recently, snow shovelers.

A successful raffle - sale of all 325 of the $100 tickets - would keep those reassuring calls coming. Grant funding for the program, which needs about $20,000 annually to cover such expenses as part-time staff and equipment, has run out.

The program was launched with a three-year United Way grant that expired this year. Carroll's Bureau of Aging, which gives the program an office and phones at the Westminster Senior Center, cannot include Seniors Keep in Touch in its annual budget until 2005. Hopes of filling the money gap are riding on the Harley.

The nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County Inc., which oversees the seniors program, and the Westminster Kiwanis Club are sponsoring the raffle of the XLH Sportster 1200, the motorcycle maker's 100th- anniversary model.

"We needed a fund-raiser, and we looked for something fun and appealing," said Patricia A. Supik, executive director of the partnership and owner of two raffle tickets. "These bikes are very much in demand."

The jet black roadster, "born Feb. 14" according to its birth certificate, just arrived at Harley-Davidson of Frederick. It sells for about $8,500 and is the fourth motorcycle the dealership has sold recently for a fund-raiser.

"This is a really popular model without all the goodies. So, it's affordable for most charities," said Sherman Vandevender, sales manager. "This is a good starter bike, a really cool model. But, then, Harley does not make an uncool bike."

In addition to the seniors program, raffle money will help pay for the Kiwanis Club's youth scholarships.

"This is really an intergenerational fund-raiser," Owen said. "We are hoping to keep two programs going."

Every morning, Owens makes a round of calls, asking those she refers to as "my seniors" about their health and medications. She engages them in brief, friendly conversation, which for many is the only social contact of the day. She made those calls from her home during the heavy snowstorm last month and was often able to find the help her seniors needed.

Organizers opted to sell only 325 tickets to increase the odds of winning.

"People have a better shot of winning, and when you think about it, $100 is not too steep," said Cal Bloom, a Kiwanis member who has sold five tickets from his barbershop in Westminster. "I bought one myself to support the cause, but I don't see myself on a motorcycle."

Ticket purchase includes entry to the April 1 raffle party at the Carroll County Agriculture Center. Several consolation prizes are available to those who miss out on the Harley, including a week's stay in Stowe, Vt., $2,500 cash and assorted motorcycle accessories.

The partnership has set up a phone line for sales at 410-871-7646.

"Just call us, and we'll bring a ticket to you," Supik said.

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