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Recent News

Be our guest

Ms. Herndon and John

This week, one of our clients came into the office to have lunch with the AHH office staff. Ms. Herndon has been a client for more than a year, and talks with Steffi often to arrange transportation for doctor’s appointments, errands, and trips to local coffee shops. Ms. H is one of our most active clients. She’s willing to participate in any video project we come up with (you can see videos of her on our Youtube channel!), calls regularly to check in with the staff, and forges strong connections with the volunteers who work with her. But even with all those phone calls, she and Steffi had never met. So when Ms. H expressed interest in stopping by our office to meet the staff in person, Steffi jumped at the chance and invited her to lunch.

Ms. H arrived with one of her volunteers, John, on Wednesday afternoon. She greeted our staff warmly, shaking hands with each of us, finally able to put faces to the voices she hears on the phone almost daily. Immediately she thanked us for the services we had provided for her through our volunteers. As we sat down to lunch, Ms. H shared how she had found out about A Helping Hand when she moved to Durham last year from Cary. Our sister organization, The Center for Volunteer Caregiving of Wake County, had recommended us. “Thank goodness they did. You’re my angels,” she said. “Every one of my volunteers has been great!”

Over lunch, we chatted about Ms. H’s life history and John’s plans for after he graduates in May. Ms. H passed around her cell phone to show us a picture of her dog, Miko, and we played a few rounds of trivia. When all too soon it was time for Ms. H to leave, we packed up some leftovers for her to take home and she gave us each a hug. Throughout her visit, she thanked Steffi and the rest of the staff numerous times for their hard work and dedication.

It was a way for all of us who work in the office to see and hear firsthand the impact our volunteers have on our clients’ lives. Although Ms. H kept thanking us, it was an incredible gift for our staff to meet her and connect with her in a whole new way. Sharing a meal with Ms. H allowed our staff to come face to face with the wonderful work A Helping Hand does in our community.

Steffi finally got to meet (and take a selfie with) Ms. Herndon!

3-Degree impact

In May, A Helping Hand was chosen as the nonprofit of the month for WNCN’s 3-Degree Guarantee. Every day that WNCN’s meteorology team correctly predicted the temperature within three degrees, they donated $50 to A Helping Hand. Every donation was matched by Allen Kelly & Co. WNCN correctly predicted the temperature 26 days in May, and A Helping Hand was awarded $2,600!

This money has been set aside as a special fund for the clients in our volunteer program. If a client has an urgent need and none of our volunteers is available, Rebecca will use the 3-Degree fund to provide them with a paid companion at no cost. Without the 3-Degree fund, there would be no way for us to provide assistance to these clients who are in need at a time when all of our volunteers are busy.

So far, the 3-Degree fund has provided:

Transportation to 12 doctor’s appointments,

Transportation to 1 cataract surgery,

3 trips to the grocery store,

And 8 hours of respite care.

Without the help of our paid companions, these clients would have had no way to accomplish these crucial errands. For these clients, AHH’s services are truly their only option. Public transportation is not accessible to someone who can’t walk to the bus stop and stand until a bus arrives; a taxi or even an Uber is simply unaffordable. All of these doctor’s appointments would have to be rescheduled or canceled and the cataract surgery pushed back until transportation could be arranged. Some with no food in the house would have had no other way to go out and do their weekly shopping. And family members who stay at home while caring for a loved one would not have been able to get out and run errands or attend to their own needs.

Thank you so much to chief meteorologist Wes Hohenstein and the entire team at WNCN, and their partners at Allen Kelly & Co. They have helped, and will continue to help, many local seniors through their donation from the 3-Degree Guarantee program.

If you would like to help us continue providing this indispensable service to seniors in our community, please contribute to the 3-Degree fund using the donate link below!

Donate now!



Going the extra miles


When I was an intern last fall, one of the clients I assisted every week was Ms. L. She lived in an assisted living facility in Durham and was miserable there. The focus of her AHH interns each semester was helping her look for an apartment in Wilmington, so she could live on her own and be near the ocean. After years of working toward it, she finally was able to move to Wilmington in April. Although she was sad to be leaving her AHH companions behind, she was thrilled to finally be moving to a place she would be happier and more independent.

A few weeks ago, Steffi got a call from Ms. L. She was really happy in her new place, and she loved Wilmington, she said. But she’d lived there for four months, and she hadn’t been to the beach yet. Would any of her former companions be available to take her to the beach for a day?

Steffi told her that she couldn’t make any promises but she would ask the interns who had worked with Ms. L to see whether any of them would be able to go to Wilmington for a beach trip. I accepted the invitation. After looking up beaches that would be wheelchair accessible, I called Ms. L and set up a time for my visit. Last weekend, I hit the road for a day at the beach.

Ms. L was excited to show me around her new place. She had decorated her kitchen with blue towels and knick-knacks, some of which I recognized from our shopping trips in Durham. We chatted and it was clear that Ms. L was happier than she had been in the assisted living facility, although she missed the company of her neighbors. When I asked whether she was ready to go the beach, her eyes lit up.

I expected that sitting on the boardwalk at Carolina Beach would be the closest we could get to the waves, since Ms. L’s wheelchair could not travel over sand. But we stumbled upon a stretch of accessible beach surface at one of the beach entry points – a series of blue plastic tiles that allowed Ms. L’s chair to roll closer to the ocean. Ms. L slipped off her shoes and dug her feet into the sand. Her toe tapped along to the music a group of girls was playing nearby. As she gazed at the ocean, the bright blue sky, the seagulls and the people all around us, she had a smile of complete contentment on her face.

At the end of the day, I commented on how fun the afternoon had been. Ms. L responded, “There wasn’t a second of today that I wasn’t happy.”

All we had done was take a 15-mile drive to the beach, but it wasn’t something that Ms. L could have done on her own. All it took was a few hours of my time to bring her a carefree, joy-filled afternoon at the beach.

Making miracles happen

A Helping Hand

The program coordinators at AHH sometimes do the impossible for our clients when something unexpected happens. Steffi and Rebecca, who juggle the companions and clients for the volunteer and paid programs, are more often than not able to provide much-needed assistance to clients, even with short notice.

Rebecca keeps a running list in her head of companions’ availability and preferences – who can help during school hours, who knows Durham roads like a native. So she’s ready when Ms. G, a client who is no longer able to cook for herself and mostly relies on takeout food, calls needing a driver to pick up breakfast and lunch for her. Ms. G usually calls the night before or the morning of the day she needs assistance. Rebecca has created a network of companions who are willing to help Ms. G at a moment’s notice. Once that call comes in, Rebecca works through the list of companions in Ms. G’s area, calling each one until she finds someone who can bring Ms. G food. Without this indispensable service, Ms. G would struggle to feed herself.

Steffi works with our volunteer companions and recently was able to help Ms. A, a client who struggles with chronic pain. Ms. A had been to the doctor the previous week, but at the appointment her doctor forgot to give her a new prescription for her pain medication. She called her doctor to see whether he could send the prescription to her or directly to the pharmacy, but was told that she needed to come and pick it up from the doctor’s office in person. For someone who relies on an essential medication and can’t drive, this was a crisis. Steffi sent out an email appeal and called many volunteers, searching for someone to take Ms. A back to the doctor for the prescription. One of our companions, Rod, was able to come to the rescue that day, just a few hours before the doctor’s office closed. His help eased Ms. A’s anxiety, and she got the medicine she needed.

These are just two examples of how the AHH staff, along with our compassionate companions, move mountains to help seniors and adults with disabilities in the community and improve their quality of life.

Welcome to AHH

Welcome to A Helping Hand!

I’m Sarah, and I’m a fellow at A Helping Hand. That means I do pretty much anything around the AHH office. My primary responsibility is assisting the program coordinators with scheduling, but I also aid clients in assisted living facilities and in their homes, keep our filing system organized and up to date, post content on our social media, go on office frozen yogurt runs, and now, write this blog. I graduated from UNC in 2015, and I aspire to be an occupational therapist – although, like many people my age, my career plans are constantly in flux.

I started with A Helping Hand as an intern in the fall of 2016. I had never worked with seniors before, and all of my grandparents lived far away or had passed away when I was young, so I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was matched with several clients in Chapel Hill and Durham, and I was able to get to know a wide variety of people in my community that I never would have met on my own. As a pretty extreme introvert, I knew that going into a stranger’s home to visit was far outside of my comfort zone. But I loved the experience. It was so gratifying to provide much-needed assistance, and getting to know my clients one-on-one was right up my alley. I stayed on as a companion after completing my internship, and the rest is history.

I’ll be writing this blog to tell the world more about what we do at A Helping Hand. Most people don’t know what companion care is, much less any of the behind-the-scenes magic of AHH! Our staff and companions do so much good work in our community, and it deserves to be highlighted. I’ll be sharing stories about our clients and companions, helpful tips and information for caregivers, and insight into the work our staff does on a daily basis to improve the lives of seniors and disabled adults in our community.

Thanks for stopping by!

We are taking over @trianglekindnessproject on Instagram TODAY!

From Durham nonprofit Inspire MEdia Network. A Collaborative photo project documenting acts of kindess!