May 2014

Charity Corner: Getting Neighborly in Bluffton

Author: Kitty Bartell

“It takes a village,” is the mantra of child advocates and educators; a community of support is needed to rear a successful, healthy child. More and more a village has become equally important to aging successfully, as well. Caring Neighbors, Inc. is repeating that mantra and creating that village in Bluffton.

Founder, president, and driving force behind Caring Neighbors, Betty Miller, took her inspiration for the Rose Hill Plantation-based non-profit from the Caring Neighbors founders in Massachusetts. “A group of seniors in Beacon Hill got together; they were aging and they knew they needed more services. They didn’t want to leave their homes. So they got together to figure out how they could help one another.”

A nurse with a degree in health ministry, Miller, along with an eight-member board, coordinates a carefully screened volunteer force of 75 on their mission: to assist our neighbors in our community as they age in their homes, and to provide the confidence and security of knowing that help is available to them. And with their purpose: to provide seniors with options to maintain their independence for as long as it is safe to do so, and provide family members with confidence that there is additional support for their loved ones while they are in their homes.

Offering non-medical services at no cost, the volunteers provide transportation, social visits, check-in calls, meals while recovering from surgery or illness, handyman services, dog walking, errands, technical support for computer, DVD, or TV, insurance counseling, and social events. The group knows that one of the greatest barriers to staying independent throughout the aging process is acknowledging that aging is occurring and that assistance is needed. “This is simply neighbors helping neighbors,” Miller said. “We all need each other to grow old.”

“Betty is connecting all the dots,” said board member David Alven. Communities and families used to be more tightly knit, and this type of neighborly assistance was part of the fabric of those communities. With aging seniors often living far from family, and having fewer neighborly connections, Caring Neighbors is taking the place of that missing community in Bluffton and taking care of one another.

In the foreseeable future, Caring Neighbors anticipates growing to the point of needing to hire someone to coordinate the volunteer calendar and all that goes along with building a bustling village. Additionally, a concierge service is in the planning stages, where needs will be connected to service providers. The group is also hoping to attract new board members with business experience to help guide the program. Of course, new volunteers are always welcome.

Caring Neighbors hosts events throughout the year to raise funds to meet their expenses. From bringing in speakers, to December’s Cookie Caper, February’s Valentine Gala, and a Volunteer Appreciation Brunch in April, they have a lot of fun along the way. These neighbors understand that it truly does take a village, and they are caring for one another, one visit, one car ride, one meal, one errand, at a time. 

For more information, call (843) 368-2096, e-mail info@caring-neighbors.org, or visit caring-neighbors.org.

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