Caring Neighbors helps people age in their own homes

abredeson@islandpacket.comJuly 5, 2013 

Caring Neighbors volunteer Janet Wright, left, helps Nancy Sweeny get her groceries in the trunk during a shopping trip to Kroger.

JAY KARR — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • CARING NEIGHBORS

    The nonprofit organization Caring Neighbors offers a variety of services at no charge to Bluffton residents who wish to live at home as they age. The group is looking for more volunteers. To sign up for services or volunteer, call 843-368-2096 or visit www.caring-neighbors.org.

Nancy Sweeney hasn't worked for the past five years. She's 75 years old with arthritis and a bad back. She uses a cane or a walker to get around. And she has no car.

Thanks to a local nonprofit group in Bluffton, Sweeney is able to get things done that she otherwise would not.

A volunteer with Caring Neighbors picks her up every Friday and drives her to the grocery store and wherever else she needs to go at no charge.

"I don't know what I'd do without them," Sweeney said. "We have a lot of fun together. They're so good to me."

A friend who lives in Rose Hill Plantation in Bluffton told Sweeney about the group.

Rose Hill resident and Caring Neighbors director Betty Miller formed the grass-roots organization in 2009 to help people in the neighborhood who could not do things on their own. The goal is for people to be able to live comfortably in their own homes rather than moving into assisted living facilities.

Caring Neighbors is run by a group of about 45 screened volunteers, most of whom are retired, Miller said. The volunteers drive residents to and from doctors' appointments, help them run errands and bring them meals after they've had surgeries. They do minor household chores and maintenance, provide technical support, offer respite care and more.

They also provide companionship. Sometimes just sitting with people can really brighten their day.

"It's just the little things," Miller said.

In January the group expanded their services to greater Bluffton. Miller hopes other neighborhoods will start their own programs similar to hers.

Caring Neighbors currently serves about 15 Bluffton residents, two-thirds of whom live in Rose Hill. The group does not provide any medical care. The average age of clients is 78.

"People want someone they can trust," Miller said. "We feel like we're helping."

Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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