A new program introduced by Lindenhurst police will link volunteers with older residents who need help.
Yard work, errands and other assistance are fair game for Elderly Residents in Need, introduced to help police better connect with village residents.
"Some of the things the seniors think they can do but shouldn't be (doing)" are what volunteers will do, explained officer Sandy Rapey, who is coordinating the program with officer Mike Kirkpatrick. "They shouldn't be up on ladders," for example.
Rapey suggested the idea after police Chief Thomas Jones encouraged the staff to develop innovative ways to become more active and visible in town.
Some seniors may be missed if they didn't show up for church, club or other functions, and someone would check on them, Rapey said. But others are more isolated.
"I've got 18 years on, and when you're on calls you see there is a small population that are single, have no families and need a hand," she said.
The program is in its infancy and is evolving, Rapey said. Police are working with Catholic Charities, which offers various services, to clarify parameters.
The goal is to provide assistance to senior residents with tasks, such as yard maintenance, snow removal, small repairs at home, well-being checks and lockboxes, if desired, to allow access for first-responders in case of emergency.
Establishing a list of seniors who need help to match with willing volunteers is part of the groundwork for Rapey and Kirkpatrick. Police want to build a large pool of volunteers, including neighbors, high school and college students, retirees or anyone else who has an interest, according to Kirkpatrick.
"We've got a lot of responses from people in the area who want to help," Rapey said. "This is the community helping the community."
ERIN participants can be potentially identified by first responders, neighbors or family members. Coordinators will follow up, identify and clarify the needs and provide the resident with a list of volunteers to address them.
The pair is taking the idea on the road and spoke Monday with seniors at the Lindenhurst Park District's monthly active adult coffee program.
"The presentation was informative," Lindenhurst resident Pat Bennett said. "The ERIN program will be great for seniors who live alone or need assistance. Many of us especially like the option of a lock box that can be used by first-responders," she added.
Anyone interested in volunteering or learning more should contact Rapey or Kirkpatrick at (847) 356-5400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.