EXAMPLE #1: In Houston, Texas, Chore Corps volunteers (pictured above) take care of the household tasks their neighbors are no longer able to do, such as lawn care, laundry, light housekeeping and grocery shopping.
Even if it only takes one person to change a light bulb, that task can be daunting if the bulb hangs from the 11-foot-high ceiling of your front porch and you’re in your 80s.
Residents of the North Campus neighborhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who need a helping hand can get one from any of the neighbors who volunteer for the North Campus Community Project, a nonprofit organization and demonstration project that’s part of the city’s age-friendly work.
As explained in its mission statement, the project supports “a sustainable and thriving community by enhancing our neighbors’ autonomy, health, safety and well-being. As a community, we foster a sense of belonging through intergenerational interconnectivity and mutual generosity.”
Although the neighbor-helping-neighbor program, founded in 2011 by North Campus resident Patricia Comer and her late husband, Robert, assists people of all ages, most of its efforts go toward helping older adults.
When one neighbor couldn’t handle the daily walk to his mailbox, a neighbor-volunteer built a wheelchair ramp and repositioned the mailbox for his reach. When Comer noticed an uneven brick walkway leading to the home of an older man, the bricks were reset by another neighbor and his teenage son (see Example #2).
The program has a long list of older adults it helps, and the list grows with referrals from other neighbors. Comer also receives long- distance calls from people asking if their parents in Albuquerque qualify for the service. (If their relatives aren’t in North Campus, the callers are referred to city agencies.)
The volunteers truly are multigenerational, ranging from age 3 (a little girl accompanying her mom) to 80-something.
“I admire the senior volunteers and their ability to stay physically active, keep their minds active, and how volunteering gives them a sense of purpose,” says Comer, who is in her 60s. “I want to be like them when I grow up!”
More Neighbors Helping Neighbors
EXAMPLE #3: Honey Do Crew volunteers (pictured) perform household repair tasks — from painting a porch to replacing a front door — for low-income older adults in West Virginia’s Kanawha and Putnam counties.
EXAMPLE #4: Mayor Muriel Bowser (fifth from left), along with teens and staff from the District of Columbia's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Service's community lawn-mowing program, visit with an older homeowner. Read "Teens Mow Lawns for Those Who Can't" to learn about The Grass is Greener program.
This article is adapted from the "Build Housing for All Ages" chapter of the AARP publication Where We Live: Communities for All Ages — 100+ Inspiring Examples from America’s Community Leaders (2018 edition). Download or order your free copy.
Page published March 2019
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