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Island community makes me proud | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
To the editor:
Thank you! There’s much to agree with in Dr. Keyes guest column “Living in a community that values seniors.”
On an island where great focus is placed on our children, our schools and our growing families, there is also a very large and vital senior population. Our senior center offers dancing, Spanish language lessons, softball and a catalog full of activities for our aging population. It’s a bustling place.
The living communities that Dr. Keyes mentions are wonderfully staffed and managed residences, if you are lucky enough to afford them. All mentioned are private pay options and they are not inexpensive. While they certainly offer a great value for the price, many seniors on this island cannot afford to live in them.
What Dr. Keyes did not mention was another way our island values our seniors – through service. Many service organizations assist seniors in a variety of ways and their services are largely unnoticed. These groups work tirelessly and quietly to help seniors, and those who are in need. They have small budgets and a dedicated staff of volunteers who rarely say “no.”
One of the largest providers of services to the senior community on the island is IVC (Island Volunteer Caregivers). They drive, shop and visit a growing number of care receivers.
My experience as a volunteer with IVC has been both rewarding and heart-wrenching. I drove a lovely woman to an appointment who told me I was the only person she had seen all week. I met a man with nothing in his refrigerator because his family hadn’t visited for over a month.
Many of our seniors spend too much time alone. Some live in large homes which were once alive with activity, now with everyone gone, they’re living in three rooms of an eight-room house. Others live in one of a few rent-subsidized apartments, most of which have waiting lists.
The measure of value must include all – those with resources and those without. Service is one of the ways that we can reach everyone and help them remain independent longer and enjoy a good quality of life.
I’m proud to live in a community that values and supports ALL of our seniors regardless of their income.