Nonprofits Join Forces to Keep People Safe at Home

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Woman celebrates freedom after volunteers build wheelchair ramp

Debra Jones feels free. For the first time in more than a year, she can safely go outside. She can’t get enough of the fresh air and sunshine after being confined to her home, unable to climb up or down the steps. On any given day, you’ll likely find her in the backyard planting flowers, walking Indiana Jones (her tiny, Maltese yorkie), chatting with neighbors, or driving around town.

“I know it sounds crazy that five steps can make a difference, but it can,” she said.

Those five front steps were keeping her trapped inside. This spring, INdependence At Home Network’s volunteers built a ramp, allowing her to maneuver her wheelchair out the front door and into freedom.

“Now with my ramp, I’m going, going gone,” Jones said, laughing. “Good luck catching me.”

Organizations team up to make homes safer

It’s the kind of freedom INdependence At Home Network wants to provide for people who are in need of a helping hand to make their homes safer and improve the quality of life for older adults and people with disabilities.

Several Indy-area nonprofits joined forces to create INdependence At Home Network.

“Our organizations decided that by sharing our knowledge, wisdom and best practices we could improve our services, and it allows us to do more together, rather than working alone,” said Dan Amonett, a certified aging-in-place specialist at CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions.

Amonett spearheaded the effort to create the network.

In addition to CICOA, other participating organizations are Servants at Work, Inc., NeighborLink Indianapolis, Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County, Easterseals Crossroads, Crooked Creek Community Development Corporation and Koremen, LLC.

Collectively, the organizations do about 1,000 home modifications annually. Through the partnership, they hope to increase that number and focus on high-risk neighborhoods. The goal is to empower people to stay in their homes as long as they safely can live there.

“Servants at Work is thrilled to be a part of the INdependence at Home Network,” said Emily Reynolds, outreach director. “In addition to better networking, we see this as an opportunity to grow our resources and knowledge about other services available for our clients in need.”

Home accessibility modifications can change lives

More than 90 percent of Americans 60 and older say they prefer to live at home, according to an AARP survey. As people age, they often struggle with home maintenance and need accessibility modifications to prevent falls. Those modifications can be as simple as installing handrails, grab bars and ramps, like the one Jones received.

“I am singing their praises,” Jones said of the team of volunteers from Servants at Work that built her ramp. “It’s awesome. I can get out now, barbecue, transform my background. Two days ago, I planted flowers. I can talk to my neighbors. I can’t thank them enough.”

It was a simple solution that has changed the life of this 60-year-old Indianapolis woman.

Learn more about the INdependence at Home Network. Organizations seeking to join the network should contact Amonett at damonett@cicoa.org. 


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