Interns make an impact

Our interns are the lifeblood of our charitable program at A Helping Hand. We rely on them to provide assistance to 40 of our volunteer clients every semester. These clients depend on their companions each week in order to go grocery shopping, get to doctor’s appointments, and pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. Without the help of our tireless interns, we would need to recruit 30 or 40 new volunteers to serve all of our clients!

The most recent class of interns, from the summer 2017 internship, provided nearly 1,310 hours of assistance to 62 local seniors and adults with disabilities. This made a huge impact in our community and in the lives of each of our clients. In all, the interns double our capacity to serve our community.

Interns have also shaped other aspects of AHH. Jiwon, an intern in the fall of 2015, introduced us to the Music and Memory program, and brought iPods full of favorite tunes to many of our clients. A Helping Hand has continued to partner with Music and Memory ever since. James, an intern in 2015 and fellow for 2016, enrolled AHH in the Presidential Service Award program, so we can honor our volunteers with this prestigious prize. Hannah helped organize an event last year with Ms. Reynolds, hosting a celebration for our volunteers and paid companions at Ms. R’s home. And last spring Koushik started what has become an ongoing tradition of hosting a client mixer at the end of every semester, as a culmination of the internship session.

Our interns do so much for our charitable program, and the program simply wouldn’t function without their help. Thank you to all of our wonderful interns for filling this need for local seniors!

Advocating and educating

Ms. Reynolds has been an AHH client for more than four years, and she’s also one of our strongest community advocates. Ms. R gets weekly assistance from one our interns every semester, which gets her out of the house for doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping at Aldi, and ice cream at Maple View Farms. She calls the office regularly to chat and keeps us up to date on the latest gossip. Ms. R loves getting to know the young people she meets through A Helping Hand, and often stays in touch with her interns long after they complete their semester working with her.

Ms. R also spends time advocating for A Helping Hand. In the past month, she has attended two events at UNC with us. At these job and volunteer fairs, Ms. R talked up AHH and used her charm to get students to sign up to volunteer or apply for jobs with us. Her engaging personality drew people to our table, and she had a carefully honed pitch to describe what AHH does and how important our work is to her.

Last Friday, the fall interns had their first team meeting. Ms. R generously offered to host the meeting in her home. She had been a surgical nurse and shared insights and countless stories from the medical field with our pre-health interns.

The interns gathered on the couch in Ms. R’s sunroom, with Ms. R at the head of the circle in her office chair. She regaled them with stories of nursing in Hawaii, and gave tips on how to choose a specialty in a medical career. She also shared her own medical history, which includes a miraculous recovery from a broken leg and seven weeks in a coma. Her experiences both as a nurse and a patient gave the interns a better picture of the field that they’re aiming to start their careers in.

Thank you, Ms. Reynolds, for your work to shape the careers of future medical professionals, and your advocacy for A Helping Hand!

In the run up to Giving Tuesday on November 28, we’ll be featuring AHH clients and companions who give back. Stay tuned for more details about their stories and how you can donate.

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!