DASHing to Help the Homebound

May 15, 2017

DASH (Disabled Association Support for the Homebound, Disabled & Seniors) is a small organization on Roosevelt Island with big-hearted volunteers who support the homebound, disabled, and seniors on the Island. We operate without a budget and depend on people’s time and goodness – and share ours within our community.

Years ago, Island internist Dr. Jack Resnick saw the lack of social opportunities for the homebound during his house calls to Island patients. His conviction was that homebound patients with social opportunities would feel happier, stay healthier, and would be able to stay at home rather than in nursing homes and hospitals. In 2009, this idea grew to be DASH as we (all the amazing volunteers and myself) got together to fulfill this need.

 

As Observers 

 

We observed our community for almost two years – its international flavors and multi-denominational values – and jumped into activities involving senior, disabled, and homebound residents. While getting to know the needs, values, likes, and dislikes of the community, we also reached out to our community leaders for support and to build trust in the community. We understood that the key to a healthy community was building and sustaining relationships. We were determined not to create a one-way street where a volunteer goes in to do a job and then leaves forever. 

 

As Collaborators

 

Sharing and collaborating are the essence of developing a harmonious community, but too often, unfortunately, people get competitive, refusing to share information or help each other in order to maintain a powerful position. We take pride in connecting those in need with those that have help to give. We collaborate with many Island organizations and share our volunteers with anyone needing help, including the Roosevelt Island Senior Association, Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, Pay it Forward, the Wildlife Freedom Foundation, and the Women’s Health Group. We are also glad to talk about creating “buddy systems” among neighbors in buildings. 

We work very closely with the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and the Carter Burden Network, which runs the Senior Center, since that is where we feel we are most useful, and we find many who need assistance at their fun, free events and activities. 

 

Here are a few things we’ve done so far: The sweet “Happy Birthday” visits from Girl Scout Troop 3001 to the homebound (a big thank you to Wholesome Factory which is so generous with our community and provides the flowers and cupcakes for these visits). The amazing UNIS high-school students who perform, complete chores for seniors, help with technology, and set up/clean up for weekend senior events at the Senior Center. The much-loved iServe students from Indiana who organize fun events and do chores for seniors. 

 

These types of intergenerational exchanges bring mutual pleasure.

 

As Empowerers

 

We believe in empowering and enabling the ones we assist by giving them control of all situations and ensuring they make their own decisions – always ready to help when asked. As many a community manager has experienced, some don’t treat everyone as they would like to be treated themselves. We understand our community and are willing to go in with kindness and humility – no matter what! It is the tone we set that is followed by the recipient, and so, 99% of the time, we end our day with hugs and smiles.

 

As Leaders From The Back

 

Leading from the back has allowed our volunteers to develop and sustain relationships with each person they come in contact with. It has created many beautiful relationships – such as young Noa, who has adopted a grandma and visits her every week, and Ana, our ”Florence Nightingale,” who prepares breakfast for a senior every morning.

 

As Learners 

 

When you spend time volunteering with seniors, you benefit just as much as they do! Imagine how many valuable stories, lessons, and experiences your elders can share with you. The more volunteers, the more joy we can take to those in need. So don’t postpone calling. 

 

Our new need is for volunteers to accompany seniors back from medical appointments requiring a companion – the return car service is paid by the seniors. We recently saw the honor paid to the Women of Distinction on Roosevelt Island – so let’s all reach out to being ONE strong community and not only individual strong organizers and organizations. As Ryunosuke Satoro once said, “Individually we are a drop, together we are an ocean.” 

 

To volunteer with DASH, or to get more information, email firstdash@gmail.com or call 917-558-0534. DASH hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

 

Louella Streitz

Founder & Director, DASH

firstdash@gmail.com

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