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Volunteers with UR Community Cares Help Connecticut Neighbors in Need

03.17.14 Volunteer hands

This guest post was written and submitted by Michelle Puzzo, President & Co-Founder of UR Community Cares

Michelle Puzzo Head Shot.jpg
Michelle Puzzo

Imagine the feeling of getting older and desperately wanting to age in your home, yet your body and mind have other plans. Your eyesight isn’t quite the same. The bitter New England winters keep you housebound for fear of an incapacitating fall. Your reaction times have slowed down and you’re not quite sure of yourself behind the wheel (or even climbing stairs).

Yet you need medications, groceries, to have the snow shoveled. You crave the warmth and support of your faith community. How do you do it? Many of your Connecticut neighbors face these fraught circumstances every day, many people who just need a few extra hours of help to stay in the homes they love. Home is where their physical and emotional health is best maintained – and where health outcomes are often better.

Volunteers with UR Community Cares, an all-volunteer organization of caring neighbors, are stepping up – and showing up – to help people in need, right here in Connecticut, to age in their homes.

You may not know about all the boots on the ground in your community. A growing legion of 500 caring volunteers assisting older people and those with disabilities with everyday tasks - house cleaning, grocery shopping, transportation to appointments and worship services, yard work, and so much more - for free.

Volunteers are ordinary people doing ordinary tasks – yet making an extraordinary difference in the lives of their neighbors. You can imagine the upside of organized, caring volunteers for older adults in a state like Connecticut, where the aging population is surging. It’s estimated that a quarter of Connecticut’s population will be 60 and over by 2030.

To date, volunteers have logged more than 1,200 volunteer “deeds.” And we are bursting at the seams with requests to partner with Connecticut healthcare providers, cities and towns, and agencies to match volunteers with local residents. From healthcare workers to area agencies on aging to community police officers to senior centers, we’ve gotten many requests for our caring volunteers to assist people in their homes.

Meet one of the volunteers with a big heart, Christine, a Manchester resident who took care of her parents until they passed away. Christine knew there were many older people like them, with aging bodies and little help, clinging to lifelong homes in their familiar communities.

A theology professor with limited time, Christine wanted to give someone a ride to church like she used to do for her dad. She responded to a request through www.URCommunityCares.org: Lorice needed a ride to church. And that’s what Christine does, every week, for a grateful Lorice.

You can learn more about sharing your time as a volunteer to help an older adult or person with disabilities in your community at www.urcommunitycares.org.

Michelle Puzzo, President & Co-Founder of UR Community Cares, practiced physical therapy for 20 years and took her knowledge about the complexity of disability and aging in place independently and created a website to better improve people’s lives. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1998 with her BS in Physical Therapy.

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