Denise serves clients and companions with compassion

When potential clients and companions find out about A Helping Hand, the first person they meet is Denise. Denise Matthewson is our director of client services, which means she helps all of our new clients and companions through the onboarding process.

For clients, this process typically starts with a phone call from a potential client or a family member. Denise describes the type of services AHH can provide, and learns about the client’s particular needs. Then, she visits the client at home, to assess their needs more clearly and go through the enrollment paperwork. Back at the office, she shares information about the client with Rebecca, who manages and schedules the companions, so we can make a perfect client-companion match!

Denise also manages the hiring process for our new companions. She meets each applicant and completes a thorough interview, to determine if their skills match up with our clients’ needs. Read more



A very happy holiday

We thought Thanksgiving ended a month ago, but since we’ve came back to the office after the holiday break, we’ve been flooded with messages of gratitude. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Ms. H. Ms. L called to say, “Thank you for your Christmas gift. It just lifted me up. I was down and this just lifted my spirits.” Mr. B echoed the sentiment, saying that his gift “brightened up my otherwise gloomy life right now.”

For the past several months, the AHH holiday committee has been hard at work organizing holiday gifts for the clients in our charitable and subsidized programs. For many of these clients, a gift from A Helping Hand is the only gift they receive during the holiday season. Funds provided by the Oak Grove Ruritan Club, Activate Good, and individual contributors were used to buy gift cards, and Read more



The heroes of winter break

College students make up a significant portion of our volunteer base. We love their energy, and their schedules usually match up well with the times that clients need help the most. However, during the holidays and other school breaks when students leave town en masse, we typically have to turn down requests from clients because we don’t have enough volunteers available. This year, our volunteer base has grown, and we have several locally-based volunteers who unfailingly donate their time, no matter the season. Their dependability is getting A Helping Hand clients through the holidays! Read more



Steffi serves ceaselessly

Happy Giving Tuesday! In celebration of this day of giving, we’d like to honor Steffi, our volunteer and internship program director. Steffi provides the backbone for all the work we do at A Helping Hand, managing the entire charitable program, with more than 90 clients, 60 volunteers, and up to 15 new interns each semester.

Steffi first started working in the nonprofit world with AmeriCorps, where she served a variety of nonprofits throughout the Northeast. She knew she wanted to continue working for a nonprofit, but didn’t know exactly what area to focus on. She found AHH through a friend who was working as a program coordinator here at the time.

Steffi started out at AHH as a backup companion. She did some office work, but her primary role was as a companion – working with several clients consistently and covering any last minute companion call outs. She then became a fellow, working in scheduling for both the private pay and charitable programs while still assisting clients regularly. After an incredibly busy and stressful fellowship year, Steffi packed up for a year of teaching in Spain.

When she returned to the US, Steffi came back to AHH, this time as the volunteer coordinator, where she has continued for the past two years. She juggles countless tasks on a daily basis, including volunteer and intern recruitment and onboarding, maintaining client and volunteer schedules, managing AHH’s social media, attending trainings, coordinating special events, assisting with paid program scheduling, donating to AHH fundraisers, and occasionally visiting clients. Read more



Jim volunteers in the community and in the board room

After 4 years of service, Jim is one of A Helping Hand’s longest-serving volunteers. Over the past few years, he’s assisted more than 40 clients – some just once, and others on a weekly basis. One client he’s worked with for three years, a total of 135 visits! Jim is an older adult himself, but his jovial personality and lively energy make him seem 20 years younger than his true age. After helping with his mother’s affairs as she aged in an assisted living facility, he wanted to help others stay in their own homes and live independently. He found AHH and has continued volunteering ever since.

Volunteering with AHH has opened his eyes to the services available for seniors that he knows he may need to use one day. This past year, Jim expanded his role and joined A Helping Hand’s board of directors. Read more



Hannah stands up to age bias

Hannah first came to A Helping Hand as a volunteer. She had previously volunteered in hospital settings, and enjoyed the one-on-one interaction she had with patients. She realized that treating patients with a positive attitude and respect made a difference in their experience at the hospital, and she hoped to make a deeper impact by working with older adults and people with disabilities in the community. She volunteered with AHH for a year, and then applied to participate in our internship program.

Through the internship, Hannah got to visit several clients on a more consistent basis, as well as meet with other interns to share experiences and attend events in the community related to aging and caregiving. Read more



Kayla discovers Durham through volunteering

Kayla is a 24-year-old transplant from Honolulu, Hawaii, who came to Durham, North Carolina, to study physical therapy at Duke University. In school, she enjoys learning about the human brain and how it influences body movement, but in her spare time she also enjoys dancing and going to different community events in the Triangle. But she didn’t always feel this way.

When Kayla first moved to Durham, she felt like an outsider—disconnected from the community and unfamiliar with the area, culture, and city history. After a few weeks in the area, she decided to become more involved in the community to establish her connection to Durham and discover what it had to offer. After perusing a handful of nonprofits online, she found A Helping Hand. Kayla had previous experience working with older adults, and as a future health care clinician, she knew the value and significance of this kind of work. She immediately felt compelled to get involved.

Since becoming a volunteer at AHH, Kayla has met many people from different walks of life throughout the Triangle. By serving her clients, she gets the chance to hear their life stories and discover what brings meaning to their life. Read more



Zarin’s clients are people first

Zarin had just finished her freshman year at UNC when she started interning with A Helping Hand. Like many people her age, she’d had very little interaction with older adults. She read Atul Gawande’s book “Being Mortal,” which piqued her interest in health care for older adults and prompted her to get involved with elderly members of her community. Through the internship, Zarin assisted one client on a weekly basis, and then filled in with other clients and worked in the AHH office as she was needed. This adaptability was extremely helpful to our office staff and our clients. If a last-minute need cropped up (as they often do!), Zarin was available to help out with just a few hours’ notice. Her flexibility and willingness to take clients to emergency doctor’s appointments or fill in for other companions who called out sick was invaluable.

Working with her clients one-on-one allowed her to get to know her clients well and hear their personal stories. As a future medical practitioner, she learned to get to know her clients as people first, and not just as patients with medical conditions, and to adapt to each client’s needs and personality. Read more



Be a superstar like Shalini

Before Shalini started interning with A Helping Hand, her main interactions with older adults were within her family. Her parents instilled in her the importance of building close relationships with and caring for her grandparents. She was always willing to jump to their side to tie their shoes, buckle their seat belts, or support them as they climbed the stairs. Her fondest childhood memories included listening to their stories and playing the board games that they grew up with.

As a pre-med student at Duke, Shalini wanted to build those same relationships with seniors and adults with disabilities in her community. After being accepted into AHH’s internship program, Shalini was matched with four clients whom she assisted every week. She viewed her time with her clients as adventures — field trips to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, and even weekly dance sessions at the Duke Annex!

Throughout her internship, Shalini was struck by how just a few hours of her time meant so much to the seniors she assisted. Read more



Get ready for Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is coming up on November 28! Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. We’ll be taking the next few weeks leading up to the day to honor and thank a few of our many wonderful volunteers. They’ve given so much to us and to their clients, and this is one small way we can give back to them and show our appreciation! We’ll be featuring a new volunteer each Tuesday leading up to Giving Tuesday, so stay tuned.

If you want to help, here’s how:

  • Donate! You can mark your Giving Tuesday donation in honor of one of our volunteers.
  • Volunteer – we always need volunteers to serve local seniors! Find out more here.
  • Spread the word! Read and share our blog posts about our volunteers and advocates
  • Like and share our #GivingTuesday social media posts.