I met with a new care recipient today. She was really apologetic about asking us for help and kept apologizing. I reassured her that we exist in order to help people remain independent in their homes for as long as possible. I tried hard to reassure her that our amazing volunteers find their roles as helpers really positive. They like helping others. Many of our Neighbor to Neighbor volunteers help other organizations, too. When we did a survey, we found that our folks volunteer for an average of four places! That’s a deep commitment to community and to the well-being of others. I’m so impressed with our Northshire towns and how willing people are to help one another. It seems to be woven into the fabric of the people and places, and it is lovely to see, especially for a city girl like me.

For the care recipients, it takes courage to ask for help, to admit that they can’t do everything they once could do. Some of our care recipients were N2N volunteers and joke that they “put in their time” as volunteers knowing they would need help in the future. Losing the ability to drive is a difficult thing to concede. Calling and asking a stranger for assistance requires bravery and self-compassion. Many folks would rather be isolated and alone rather than take the hard step of (1) admitting they need help, and (2) actually asking for it. I am certain there are dozens of people in the Northshire who would benefit from Neighbor to Neighbor, but they just can’t take that first big leap.

Part of my desire as the program director is to get the word out about Neighbor to Neighbor, and thanks to recent newspaper articles (thank you Marian!), the word is getting out and people are finding their way to us. It’s important to note that we don’t accept referrals. The person who needs help must contact us directly. It’s not a good thing to show up at someone’s house or even to call them and say, “I’m from Neighbor to Neighbor and I heard you need help.” It’s a recipe for misunderstanding and wounded egos. It can cause a rift between the person who told us their mom or dad or aunt or neighbor would benefit from hooking up with Neighbor to Neighbor. If you know of someone who would benefit from our services, please give them our contact information and encourage them to give me a call. And then applaud them for the courage it takes to make that call.

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