Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N), a roster of residents ready to assist elderly Cabin Johners when needed, is due for some self-improvement. Originally formed nine years ago to “help our older neighbors live comfortably in their own homes as long as possible,” the group consists of about 30 volunteers, including three coordinators (currently Judith Bell, Bob Norris, and Susan Shipp) who maintain the volunteer list, receive requests for assistance, and match each requester with an available volunteer.
For a time, this system worked reasonably well. But these days hardly anyone calls N2N and it’s clear the program needs to be revitalized. Volunteers on the N2N roster have been polled occasionally to confirm their availability and their preferred ways to help out, but no new volunteers have been recruited. Outreach to new volunteers will be critical to keeping the program going.
Also, everyone in Cabin John is nine years older than they were when N2N began. That means that there are newly elderly neighbors who might occasionally like a little help, and N2N is not aware who they are. Figuring out how best to reach out to this population is an ongoing challenge.
“Aging in Place” was much in the news in 2009, and N2N was meant to foster that phenomenon in Cabin John. But Cabin Johners of any age may need temporary assistance, and N2N volunteers have been happy to help out when they can. Should the program formally change its mission to one of helping any CJ resident in need of assistance? Equally important is making sure N2N is providing the services that neighbors need. The vast majority of N2N requests have been for transportation to appointments, the grocery store, and other errands, though volunteers have also shoveled snow, walked dogs, and organized paperwork.
Interested? Please fill out this survey to let us know how N2N can help you or you can help serve others in the community.
BY JUDITH BELL
Neighbor to Neighbor Coordinator