Yavapai County families and seniors who are a part of the Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition (VVCC) now have the ability to request financial support for lifesaving and quality of life veterinary care for their animal companions thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County.
Jennifer Brehler, Humane Society of Sedona (HSS) Executive Director stated, “Our goal in proposing this partnership with VVCC was to help ensure that families, and especially older adults living in Yavapai County would be supported during times of crisis with their pets, and not have to forgo medical treatment for their pet. We saw a 41% increase of owners giving up their animals last year and we wanted to help reverse this trend. We were overjoyed and relieved when we received the news our grant request for this life-saving project was approved by the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County. For us, it is all about keeping people and their pets together, and that is what this funding and project does!”
The project’s goal is to assist up to 40 Yavapai County seniors or families with veterinary expenses relating to lifesaving or quality of life care. Preference will be given to Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition clients, but all cases presented by local veterinarians to HSS will be reviewed by Ms. Brehler and funding determined. VVCC’s Director Kent Ellsworth added, “We are thrilled to partner with HSS and of our 1,900 seniors, at least 500 of them have pets that make a huge difference in their lives. To be able to have funds available in addition to our Pets Count Too! Program will be lifesaving both for these seniors and their four-legged family members! 50% of our clients live at or below poverty level, so they are already challenged to cover personal expenses as they age, and sometimes their companion animals get neglected as a result, and we want to ensure that does not happen.”
Veterinarians in the Verde Valley will be made aware of the project and will submit their request for funding to HSS after the family or senior meets certain criteria specified by the grant. The intention of the grant is to keep up to 40 seniors or families in Yavapai County and their companion animals together. Since inception, ACF of Yavapai County has distributed more than $24.7 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofit organizations and students. Their mission to “give where you live” is reflected in the approval of this $15,000 grant. Lisa Sahady, Regional Director, Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County shared, “This grant was made possible by our Pat and Gerhard Kroenaur Animal Friends Fund – one of eight Field of Interest Funds in our annual competitive grant cycle. Pat and Gerhard loved their animals and they would be proud to know their legacy gift, which created this fund is keeping seniors, families and their pets together.”
The project will be launched over the next month as Verde Valley veterinarians will be informed of the process for submitting their client’s requests. For more information on the project, please contact Felicia Filep, Director of Development at the Humane Society of Sedona at 928-282-4679 ext. 130 or ffilep@HumaneSocietyofSedona.org
Founded in 1966, the Humane Society of Sedona continues to take in lost, injured, and surrendered dogs, cats, and other small animals from 10am to 4pm daily by appointment only. Its mission is to build a caring community where every adoptable or treatable companion animal finds a loving home.
Founded in 1993, the Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County was the Arizona Community Foundation’s first affiliate. The Arizona Community Foundation of Yavapai County enjoys the advantages and economy of centralized management and administrative resources while the local Board of Advisors brings regional knowledge and expertise to address the community's unique needs. ACF of Yavapai County has over $68.8 million in assets.
Paddy and LeRoy were teenagers in the same Minnesota town. At 17, Paddy decided high school was not for her. Instead, she began work at a paper bindery. It was there that Paddy noticed a boy named LeRoy always sitting alone in the lunchroom. She said LeRoy was a "tad chunky at the time but a very nice boy." A few weeks passed, and Paddy finally asked LeRoy to join her and her friend for lunch. Soon after, they had their first date. Paddy and LeRoy were married six months later at the town courthouse.
Together they raised three children. Paddy ran her own drapery business, and Leroy was a thriving commercial painter. The couple enjoyed vacationing in their RVs. Paddy smiles, remembering the stares she got when people would see this tiny woman managing the big RV quite well. Paddy laughs, “If they only knew I was driving a stick shift at 13.”
After visiting Arizona several times during their travels, the couple decided that it would be best to retire far away from the 16-foot snowbanks. A year before retirement, while in Cottonwood, Ariz., Paddy saw a house in a 55+ community perfect for them. Twenty-three years ago, in 1999, Paddy and LeRoy retired to their new home.
The community was welcoming and active. The couple thrived in the warm Arizona climate. As Paddy reflects, she states that LeRoy started to exhibit the early signs of Alzheimer's a decade after their relocation. She cared for him throughout the progression of the disease.
It was Christmas day 2020, and while answering the door for visitors, Paddy fell and broke her leg. Paddy needed to spend several weeks in rehabilitation. Unfortunately, during this time, she also suffered a heart attack. As a result, doctors told Paddy she was no longer physically capable of providing LeRoy with the necessary care.
The couple's son Gerald (Gerry) stayed with his parents often while still living in Minnesota. Following his mother's injury, Gerry assisted in finding a memory-care facility for LeRoy. Paddy and Gerry knew that she could no longer safely operate a vehicle following her rehabilitation. In April of 2021, Gerry contacted Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition for assistance. Stevie Rabben, a VVCC care coordinator visited Paddy on her 87th birthday for an in-home assessment. An energetic, witty, pleasurable woman greeted her.
Since then, our volunteers have assisted Paddy with sixty-six transportation requests, from shopping trips, primary medical provider appointments, eye doctor appointments, hair appointments, and general errands. In addition, Paddy visited LeRoy once a week until he passed on Friday, Dec. 24, 2021.
During a recent friendly visit (shortly after Paddy's 88th birthday), we asked Paddy for her thoughts regarding the services provided by VVCC. After a short pause, she issued one word, "Relief." Relief to know there is someone she can always contact for assistance. Paddy enjoys her community, beloved home, cooking, and old-time movies. As an offshoot to her sewing skills, Paddy recently purchased an embroidery machine. Her latest embroidered re-creation of Noah's Ark generates joy in those that see it.
VVCC volunteers provide transportation, pet care, handyperson services (small jobs), tech assistance, emergency alert units, care management, and more to over 1,900 aging members (neighbors) of our Verde Valley community. All, like Paddy, find themselves becoming limited due to health conditions, finances, distant family members, or other circumstances. Our services lessen the barriers for our neighbors to age in their homes and community and remain independent.
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 email@example.com.
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