Hyattsville nonprofit creates network to assist the elderly -- Gazette.Net


Hyattsville senior citizens might soon get an extra hand with their chores.

Aging in Place, a nonprofit organization based in the city, has launched an initiative to assist the elderly with daily activities, such as shopping for groceries, attending medical appointments and doing house chores, said Lisa Walker, board chairwoman of the organization. So far, the organization has signed up 40 volunteers to help with the effort, she said.

“Sometimes they don’t have family around,” Walker said of elderly residents. “Sometimes (family members) die, or friends move, and you don’t know as many people if you don’t go out. Hyattsville is a good community, and we always work face-to-face. We can do this here.”

About 7 percent of Hyattsville’s 17,557 residents are 65 or older, according to 2010 Census data.

Under the program, seniors would call the organization with their request, and officials would reach out to the network of volunteers to provide the needed help. Residents interested in receiving services must be at least 60 years old or disabled and will need to sign a waiver of liability to be eligible, Walker said.

The group follows in the footsteps of other groups in Prince George’s County that have established similar networks. There are 230 members in the Greenbelt Intergenerational Volunteer Exchange Service, which started in 1995 and include seniors who receive services and those who volunteer to help, said Jean Cook, president of the group.

“We consider it very successful,” Cook said. “It is unusual for us not to be able to serve somebody.”

Walker, 67, said the Hyattsville nonprofit spawned when she and a group of citizens met in 2011 to discuss their own circumstances with aging, and it evolved into the support network.

So far, the group has found four seniors interested in receiving services, she said.

Volunteers attended a Jan. 26 workshop during which organization officials addressed questions and did some role-playing activities to demonstrate how to work with seniors.

Councilwoman Shani Warner (Ward 2) said she signed up to volunteer because she wants to help people in need.

“The nice thing about supporting this initiative is that it is something that sooner or later will apply to everyone,” said Warner, 39. “Sooner or later, all of us will fall in that age range, and we can contribute when we are younger and receive when we are older.”

Volunteers must submit to a background check and sign a waiver of liability to volunteer, Walker said. It is also suggested that volunteers and seniors receiving services donate $20 to the group to help with expenses, although it is not required, she said.

Walker said the current budget for the group is $5,000, which is made up of the non-mandatory $20 membership dues, contributions and a $3,500 grant from County Councilman Will Campos (D-Dist. 2) of Hyattsville.

Louise Higgins, 73, of Hyattsville said she was glad to volunteer with Aging in Place.

“Some people can’t do what they want to do,” Higgins said. “So if I can be their legs or their arms or their eyes, then great.”

For more information about volunteering or receiving assistance, call 301-887-3101 or visit