After a challenging 2020, People Who Care completed its 29th year on a very high note.
The United Way of Yavapai County partner – which provides non-medical assistance to adults who are no longer able to drive due to age-related or physical limitations – purchased a building for their new headquarters. Thanks to an incredibly generous legacy gift, PWC will move from their Grove Avenue office to their new location in March of 2022.
This expansion will help accommodate the dramatic increase in PWC’s “Neighbors,” its term for the people who use its services. Since January of this year, PWC has seen a 27% increase in Neighbors, and – at no cost to them – has provided help with everything from rides to essential appointments, grocery shopping, personal paperwork, and minor home repairs. Friendly visits and phone calls to “check in” on Neighbors are also part of their services.
Although transportation is one of the more vital forms of assistance the nonprofit provides, Executive Director CJ Meldahl will tell you PWC is far more than a free ride service.
When the pandemic hit, the organization launched a Technology Assistance Program with support from the United Way to help older adults master the programs needed to stay connected. This allowed clients to feel more comfortable and competent ordering groceries for themselves online or attending telemedicine appointments or enjoying Zoom sessions with friends and loved ones and alleviating feelings of isolation or loneliness.
And although TAP helped Neighbors order food for themselves, it was often volunteers who picked up those groceries. CJ estimates that last year alone, volunteers helped Neighbors avoid more than $7,800 in delivery fees.
A lot of PWC volunteers go the extra mile. Take Dick Algire, a retired U.S. Airforce Colonel and Vietnam War veteran. Back in 2015, Dick lost his wife of 46 years, Margaret, and was devastated. He tried to fill the hole the loss of his wife caused, but nothing seemed to work. Margaret had been a PWC volunteer and in 2018, Dick started doing the same in honor of her memory.
One day he was driving a Neighbor to an appointment when he sensed how sad and powerless she felt. Dick recalled feeling the same way once and wondered how he could help. He remembered he had potted daisies, his wife’s favorite, in his trunk. So after he returned the woman to her home, he presented her with the beautiful plant.
“I could tell by the change on her face that these flowers were making her happy,” he said. “It’s amazing how a few dollars and a kind act can bring so much joy.”
From that day forward, each person Dick transported received a potted flower (regardless of whether they’re male or female.) It’s not always daisies, but it always makes him think of his wife and smile.
People Who Care’s mission is to improve lives by helping the aging populations of Prescott, Prescott Valley, Dewy and Chino Valley maintain their independence while living in their own homes and communities. It works to identify needs and fulfill them, one Neighbor at a time.