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Volunteer Chore Services seeking volunteers
Catholic Community Services is calling for people of all talents to volunteer for chore services through the organization.
The Catholic Community Services/Volunteer Services Program has served Kitsap County’s low-income elders and disabled adults for the last 33 years with the help of volunteers throughout the peninsula. Volunteers may spend time working individually or in groups, twice a month or even every day.
“We help to keep them in their own homes before they go to an assisted living facility,” said Donna Jones, Catholic Community Services program coordinator.
The greatest need at the moment is for builders to construct wheelchair ramps and do minor home repairs, Jones said.
A few of her volunteers have passed away or moved, leaving her organization with fewer and fewer volunteers. Some are getting older, and they can’t handle the physical requirements of construction building.
One group that has consistently been of great help to the organization is the Bluebills volunteer group, Jones said. The Bluebills are a group of Boeing retirees who have knowledge in engineering and construction and frequently do builds together.
“They’re getting older,” Jones said of the 20-year-old Bluebill group. “There’s gonna come a time when they can’t do this much longer.”
According to the Bluebill’s website, the retirees put in 88,319 hours of volunteer work in 2012 alone across western Washington, including Kitsap County.
It is Jones’ hope that similarly enthusiastic individuals will step up to the plate to volunteer their time for chore services. The current Bluebills group can get a railing or ramp done in four hours or less, which allows them to move on quickly to other projects. All projects are up to code, including ADA requirements, Jones said.
Volunteer John Breslin, a shipyard retiree, has spent the last 13 years volunteering for Catholic Community Services. Some weeks he’ll have four or five clients who need him to install a grab bar in the bathroom or fix something around their home. Other times he won’t have calls for two or three weeks at a time, he said. But no matter when he gets the call, he’s raring to go.
“To me, it’s a big deal to keep our older folks — which I am rapidly approaching upon — in their homes,” said Breslin. “I do whatever I can do to keep somebody in their home so they’re safe and empowered so they feel like a human being.”
Breslin has done everything from electrical and plumbing to sheetrock and framing in homes. As for recipients having strangers in their home, Breslin has never come across an unkind or ungracious homeowner.
“They’re really receptive to having somebody come out and help,” he said. “That’s all that we’re doing it for is to help. They know they need help, and they really want to stay in their home.”
State funding hasn’t been kind to nonprofits, and one of the major cutbacks has been on grab bars, which help those who need assistance getting up and down, Jones said.
The chore services aspect of Catholic Community Services started in 1981 “in response to cuts in services for elders by the state legislature,” states the Catholic Community Services website.
“The state is not allowed any more to provide funding for any modifications in the bathroom,” Jones said. “We picked up that slack with the help of the Bluebills.”
Because volunteers can only spend so much time providing services, any elder or people with disabilities are asked to call in advance for help. Many times the volunteers are tied up and may not be able to drive someone to a doctor’s appointment that same day, Jones said.
“We don’t have instant volunteer services,” she said.
Services like laundry and minor home repair are available to those 60 and older, living on a fixed income who also have health or mobility limitations. Adults, ages 18 through 59, with temporary or permanent functional limitations are also eligible for services.
For those who cannot volunteer their time, there are a variety of ways to donate to Catholic Community Services. Cash gifts, recurring gifts, in-kind gifts (paper products, toiletries, clothing, etc.) and vehicle donations are all accepted.
Breslin noted that anyone who wants to make a difference should give Catholic Community Services a call.
“If you really want to be able to feel like you’ve contributed to the community, this is the way to do it,” he urged. “We all have to give a little bit back. We can’t continually just take all the time. This is a good opportunity to give a little bit back.”
For more information on volunteering, contact Donna Jones, program coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-405-0072. Interested volunteers or donors can also find information online at www.ccsww.org.