FONS Announces Newtown Chore Service And Appointee
Beverly “Bev” Bennett-Schaedler has been appointed to lead the Friends of Newtown Seniors’ (FONS) Newtown Chore Service. The service is intended to support Newtown’s Livable Community Aging-In-Place Initiative.
A Newtown resident for more than 35 years, Ms Bennett-Schaedler is a former Newtown Board of Education employee and brings her expertise to FONS in order to help connect seniors in Newtown with vetted resources — whether it is finding a local person or business for gutter clean-out, roof repairs, or other maintenance and repair projects.
“I want to be an advocate for seniors and help those in need,” Ms Bennett-Schaedler told The Newtown Bee.
Her mission in this position is to aid seniors in living comfortably and reduce the stress they face wondering who to call and who they can trust.
“This is a great opportunity for working adults, students, and retirees of all ages to reach out and help out senior neighbors. I am also seeking insured Newtown contractors/businesses willing to be added to our list of contacts,” Ms Bennett-Schaedler added.
Seniors and volunteers can contact Ms Bennett-Schaedler for the Newtown Chore Service at 203-430-0633.
Aging In Place
Aging in place is defined as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Newtown is a rural community made up mostly of single-family homes with the pressure of high taxes and cost of living. Recently, the Connecticut Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors released the report called Connecticut Aging Landscape State Policy Overview. In that report, it was stated that Connecticut is the seventh oldest state in the nation and is third with the longest-lived population because Connecticut has just under one-thousand centenarians.
There are more than 4,300 seniors (ages 65 and older) in town, making up 16 percent of Newtown’s total population of 28,000 residents, the CERC Town Profile for 2019 states.
With Newtown being such a close-knit town, those who live here are highly motivated to stay as they reach retirement age and move onto a fixed income. However, since Newtown has a broad range of income levels, there is a significant pressure on a growing senior population to continue to afford to live here.
According to information from United Way, the cost of living is high and on the rise. The cost of basic household expenses in Connecticut is $77,832 for a family of four (two adults with one infant and one preschooler).
Newtown Social Services information shows 52 percent of residents using the food pantry identify as seniors and 123 seniors are on fuel assistance.
In order to make it possible for many seniors in this population to remain in Newtown and age-in-place, some help and support must be provided.
Even minor chores pose a physical challenge as seniors age. Repairs are often very expensive, so seniors often let small problems go until they become large problems.
As an all-volunteer organization, FONS has worked with many other organizations to provide support to seniors who need small tasks done.
The vision for the Newtown Chore Service is an ever-expanding, well-coordinated team of volunteers and public/private sector professionals who provide services to seniors with a well-defined, efficient process for identification, coordination, and implementation.
By reducing the stress of repairs and maintenance, chore services make it possible, physically and economically, for seniors to remain connected to people important to them; in the community of their choice; and in familiar housing that meets their social, emotional, and physical needs.
This is most critical for those entering the confusing and frightening world of a dementia diagnosis, as they are more likely to be taken advantage of by unreliable service providers.
Repairing a roof or providing assistance with everyday tasks all support aging in place. Social benefits result for those receiving assistance and those providing aid.
Newtown Chore Service
The Newtown Chore Service project fosters collaboration to ensure a consistent and well-publicized process for identifying needs and responding appropriately.
FONS has worked with the Commission on Aging, The Handy Dandy Handyman, Lions Club of Newtown, Social Services, Newtown Youth and Family Services, Make a Home, and others to provide services to seniors in need.
FONS’ goal is to make connections and to formalize and institutionalize a comprehensive chore service. Its mission requires the support of other groups without usurping their authority or agency in the process.
In a recent case, Newtown Social Services identified a need, and the Newtown Youth and Family Services worked directly with a disabled senior to prepare for a move. The Commission on Aging and Lions Club engaged some volunteers, and FONS provided additional volunteers, a truck, plus supervised the physical move. Through this collaborative effort, the move was made in four hours, and the individual was comfortably situated in an organized apartment.
The act of collaborating on behalf of seniors raises community awareness and empathy.
The collaboration provides a unique solution to these challenges: the availability of screened volunteers and resources to identify needs and delivering services through FONS’ volunteer network, partner agencies, and collaborating professionals.
FONS is an organization to call and is a cost-effective (often free) solution. Its ever-growing network can identify and match solutions to needs.
Volunteers find fulfillment in completing tasks and can activate the network to ensure vetted, recommended professional personnel can solve problems at little or no cost to the homeowner.
Services are provided regardless of gender identification, race, religious affiliation, physical or mental handicaps, or national/ethnic origin.
Funding is needed to support the purchase of materials to support volunteer efforts.
Funding is also needed for the payment of fees and costs associated with using the expertise and know-how of organizations, such as HomeFront and Habitat for Humanity, for the types of projects they cover, as well as for local trades to cover plumbing, electrical, and roof work.
The Newtown Chore Service is operated by volunteers, and many of the small tasks are managed by them directly, but at times, it is necessary to bring in large organizations who are equipped to deal with larger more complex issues.
For further information, contact Friends of Newtown Seniors by e-mail at email@example.com; by phone at 203 430 0633; or by mail at Friends of Newtown Seniors, PO Box 413, Newtown CT 06470.
A Quick Look At The Newtown Chore Service
- The objectives of FONS in developing the Newtown Chore Service are to:
- Provide services where volunteer efforts will not suffice and paid professionals/organizations are required;
- Establish a process to coordinate organizations/town departments delivering chore service;
- Organize resources for the future;
- Compile data on services delivered;
- Deliver a network of qualified/vetted contractors;
- Compile a list of volunteers for chore projects;
- Develop a directory of age-friendly modifications.