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Quarter-century of caring

Community Caregivers keeps giving 25 years later


DERRY — Reaching out to the disabled and elderly, Community Caregivers of Greater Derry this month is celebrating 25 years of matching volunteers to those in need .

The organization follows a basic plan that has made a difference in people's lives since its inception, said Executive Director Cindee Tanuma.

"It's the most simple model: train volunteers that want to help someone but don't know who to help," Tanuma said Friday from the Caregivers' office in the Masonic Temple at 58 E. Broadway St.

A group of people from the community and local churches came together in 1983 to found the organization after seeing a need for volunteer services to supplement existing programs, Tanuma said.

Volunteers strive to help the elderly, disabled, chronically and temporarily ill stay in their own homes and communities as long as possible, she said. They assist with such tasks as medical transports, light chores, grocery shopping, friendly visiting, yard work and home upkeep.

There are 450 caregivers assisting about 350 clients, Tanuma said. Last year, the volunteers helped 325 people.

The organization strives to meet the needs of volunteers by matching them to the level of service they feel comfortable delivering.

"We really try to capitalize on meeting the needs of the average volunteer," Tanuma said.

Volunteers have logged 235,000 hours since formal time tracking began in 1992. During the past 25 years, they've helped more than 1,775 people. In just the past 12 months, volunteers drove more than 100,000 miles.

"It's not to say I don't love neighbor helping neighbor; I think that's an amazing thing about New Hampshire, but it doesn't always work," she said.

Not far from Tanuma's office is a room filled with crutches, canes and dozens of other medical equipment. Along with matching volunteers to clients for services, the staff runs the Loaner's Closet for Durable Medical Equipment. More than 5,000 pieces of donated equipment are on loan to the general public, Tanuma said.

In the last year, 1,300 pieces of equipment were loaned out to people in more than 90 New Hampshire and Massachusetts communities.

Derry resident Joan Quass said Caregivers has helped her immensely during the past two years. The 74-year-old said volunteers have routinely assisted with light house cleaning and other chores.

"It's been great having them," Quass said. "I've made really good friends with them."

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the agency will be hosting two events: a volunteer, client and supporter party at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire on Oct. 19; and a Gala Evening and Auction at Zorvino Vineyards on Oct. 24, Tanuma said.With proceeds benefitting the organization, Caregivers will be selling baked goods, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22, at Mack's Apples in Londonderry.

For more information about Caregivers and for those wishing to volunteer, call: 432-0877 or visit comcaregivers.org.

hmcgee@unionleader.com


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