Like many aging adults, Bea, 93, had to give up driving. She wondered how she would get around in rural Arizona. One of her neighbors told her about Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition and Cottonwood’s public transit service. Bea praises both services but can’t say enough about VVCC. One trip in particular made an impression. A VVCC driver took Bea to Prescott for a dermatology appointment. She was expecting the process to take two hours, but it took four! She was very impressed her driver was willing to wait for her. “He was wonderful!” she exclaimed. (Read Bea's story here.)
You can make a difference in your life and the lives of other seniors, like Bea, by becoming a VVCC volunteer. We invite you to attend one of the following information sessions to learn how you can help older adults in need: Oct. 14, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. or Oct. 19, 9 to 10 a.m. at the Cottonwood Public Library, 100 S. 6th Street. Also Oct. 28, 1 to 2 p.m. at Camp Verde Public Library, 130 Black Bridge Loop Road, Camp Verde, AZ 86322.
Volunteers are especially needed to drive older adults to medical appointments, grocery shopping, or shop for, install Guardian Angel medical alert units, make friendly visits, provide respite assistance, handy person help, and more. You decide when and how often you can volunteer. There’s no set schedule. For more information and to RSVP for a session above call (928) 204-1238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cassandra drives Jerry to an appointment.
Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition in partnership with Spectrum Healthcare is providing in-home vaccinations for homebound older adults and adults with disabilities.
Dr. Bruce Peek, who serves on VVCC’s Board of Directors, launched a pilot and mobile team, which vaccinated 12 older adults in their homes on March 1 .
“This was a big blessing,” said Cary Vaitkus, whose homebound mother, Eva, received her vaccination. “At 93, it’s hard for my mother to walk and then stand in line. We were so ecstatic to receive a phone call to participate.”
Guy Lamonyon, Northern Arizona University Nursing Instructor, assisted with the visits and will lead the second mobile team beginning as early as next week. Each mobile team will vaccinate 15 people per day.
VVCC is now providing in-home vaccinations five days per week, with 15 vaccinations per day, throughout the Verde Valley. Spectrum Healthcare is providing the vaccine, officially registering the individuals receiving the vaccine, and providing the supplies.
VVCC Executive Director Kent Ellsworth, said “We have many older adults who are homebound, cannot drive, and are not able to navigate the online vaccination registration process. We want to do whatever we can to relieve this stress, keep them safe, and get them vaccinated.”
Protecting homebound seniors will also impact community health. “Going to them in their homes improves their safety and ultimately allows for them, after vaccination, to interact with others, improving their health and the community’s health,” said Dr. Peek. “We are very excited about the prospects of providing this service.”
Eva, sitting comfortably in her home next to her walker, said “This is a brilliant idea. It’s much nicer to stay at home.”
VVCC is currently registering its clients for the vaccine and other older adults in the community who need assistance, and transporting them to vaccination locations. VVCC will work closely with Northern Arizona Council of Governments and other organizations who serve homebound elderly and adults with disabilities. For more information on the vaccine program call (928) 204-1238.
VVCC is in its 29th year serving approximately 2,200 older adults throughout the Verde Valley. Volunteers drive neighbors to the grocery store, medical appointments, dialysis, physical therapy and other important appointments. Volunteers also provide home safety checks, shop for neighbors, provide business help, patient scribe, respite and pet assistance. VVCC also loans Guardian Angel emergency alert units to older adults at risk for falling.
Eva, a VVCC neighbor, received her COVID vaccination on Monday, administered by Dr. Bruce Peek.
Over 200 neighbor gift requests were filled by the Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition this year. Angel trees were set up in the Cottonwood, Sedona and Camp Verde Libraries, the Sedona United Methodist Church, and Oakcreek Country Club. People picked gift requests off the trees, bought and wrapped the gifts and returned them to collection boxes by the trees.
Gift requests are usually for such items as warm socks, gloves, pajamas, and blanket throws, but might also include special requests. One neighbor received a “Reacher-grabber” and another a microwave oven. Many of our elderly neighbors are very poor and alone in the world. For some, this will be the only holiday gift they will receive.
People who give the gifts look forward to the program. The libraries begin receiving calls in October from people asking when the trees will be up. Volunteers who deliver the gifts find it a very rewarding experience because the neighbors are usually very grateful for the gift.
VVCC Call Center Specialist, Veloy Habinck, related the following experience:
“A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Sandra who said she just received our Holiday Gift letter (a bit after the deadline due to a change of address). I asked her what she would like...and she said a blanket throw.”
Veloy quickly ordered a throw and was able to deliver it a few days later. “When I got to her home, I heard this little dog barking away and I thought...’hmm, hope it does not bite!’ She opened the door; I introduced myself and extended the wrapped present to her and I have never, never seen a more stunned expression! She put her hand toward her cheek and kept saying ‘I don't know what to say.’ Tears started flowing down her cheek. Then ‘I don't know how to thank you; I just don't know how to thank you.’ How wonderful to bring someone a bit of happiness -- a simple blanket throw turned into an amazing experience. And, I got to meet her dog, Willie who, by the way, did not bite, but gave little kisses!”
Linda M. Clark
Development & Communications Manager
299 Van Deren, Suite 2
Sedona, AZ 86336