Debbie has been a VVCC neighbor for the past six years. Originally from Brooklyn, her career was teaching kindergarten in Queens. After she retired, Debbie moved to Arizona and eventually settled in Cottonwood.
Debbie is living with stage three kidney disease, macular degeneration, and cataracts. She faces constant pain and severe arthritis in her knees, legs, and back. She is also dealing with bipolar disorder. Debbie has not driven for the past decade and depends on VVCC for essential transportation services to medical appointments and grocery shopping.
Living on little more than $1000/month, Debbie has found community support. Local food banks and food boxes from Manzanita Outreach help with nutrition. As well as transportation, VVCC has provided technology coaching allowing her to use her android device with confidence for communication. NACOG helps with housekeeping. She also plans to join VVCC’s monthly senior outings.
Debbie is dedicated to maintaining her physical and mental wellbeing. In addition to having regular healthcare, she participates in NAZCARE wellness programs, enjoying activities like yoga and attending a bipolar support group three times a week. She regularly visits the Cottonwood Library for books to read. Her parakeet, Sweetie Pie keeps her company.
With her determination and the caring network surrounding her, Debbie continues to embrace life with resilience and appreciation. Of VVCC Debbie says, "I love it! I am very grateful for Verde Valley Caregivers. They make me feel like family."
Debbie cuddles the stuffed service dog given to her by VVCC.
For being 93 Bea is very active. Until COVID-19 shut everything down she was teaching a course in memoir writing for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Yavapai College. But like many aging adults, her vision is failing and she has given up driving.
Bea was born in Buffalo NY, married in 1948 and lived most of her adult life in the Midwest where she raised five children. One of her sons moved to Sedona when he was in his 20s. Once her husband retired the couple travelled around the country with a camping trailer. Their travels brought them to Sedona to visit their son and they fell in love with the area.
After her husband passed away, Bea began spending winters in Sedona and summers in Ohio with one of her daughters. When the pandemic struck, Bea was in Sedona and decided to stay. She had already purchased a house for winters to save on the cost of renting.
Bea wrote a book about how life was in her younger days for the benefit of her children and grandchildren. She put the book on Amazon so that it would be easy for her to buy to give to family members. To her surprise others began buying it. That experience morphed into her class on writing family history. She currently has two books that she is working on.
When Bea stopped driving, she wondered how she would get around in rural Arizona. One of her neighbors told her about VVCC. She also uses the public transit service. Bea praises both services but can’t say enough positive about VVCC service. One trip in particular made an impression. A VVCC driver took her to Prescott for dermatology. She was expecting the process to take two hours – it took four! She was very impressed that her driver was willing to wait for her. “He was wonderful!” she exclaimed.
Bea is not using VVCC transportation so much now because she has a personal caregiver that visits three times a week and will take her to appointments and shopping. But she still believes VVCC to be an outstanding service. “When you can’t drive, you can’t just decide to run out to the store or something. Everything needs to be planned ahead.”
Neighbor, Bea 93
Verde Valley Caregivers volunteer, Ray Harris, has a passion for helping others. He recalls that as one of 6 children in a poor family in Massachusetts they were very grateful for the help they received from others. That early experience has instilled in him a desire to help others.
When Ray got out of school, he joined the Air Force and served from 1969 to 1976. While in the Air Force, Ray got a degree in Math. He worked as a horse racing agent for jockeys from 1977 to 2016. One of his clients was Russell Baze, a jockey noted for his record 12,800 races won.
In 1992, working with the school system, Ray started an agency called Castro Valley Outreach, which helped people in need in the town with children in the school system. Although Ray is no longer with them, the charity is still going on.
Ray was attracted to VVCC because he enjoys helping people. He enjoys driving them and getting to know them. Two of the men he has been driving are 84 and 91. They have trouble walking. “VVCC is a great charity,” Ray says. People should not be ashamed to ask for help.
“Giving back is important. Those people [the neighbors] have done so much for us, for our country,” Ray says.
Ray helps neighbor, Patric, transition from the car to his chair.
Maureen, 80, knew Verde Valley Caregivers would be there for her when she needed them. It’s been 15 years since her first call for help. “They are so well known I called them because I couldn’t drive.”
Since her first call, VVCC volunteers have been driving her to medical and eye appointments, grocery shopping, and to her dentist in Flagstaff. She recalled one time they drove to Flagstaff in a snowstorm.
Asked about the impact VVCC has had on her life, she said, “I don’t think I could make it without them. I couldn’t drive to Flagstaff in a snowstorm. There is always somebody there for me.”
Maureen can’t say enough about how wonderful the service as been for her. She would like to thank everyone who has supported VVCC financially and by volunteering. “They do so much, I call them angels!”
She adds, VVCC is a wonderful blessing. “They should be in every community in the country. I don’t see how they could be any better. They are superheroes!”
Maureen, a neighbor for 15 years.