HUDSON — Many West Pasco residents still struggle during a rocky economic recovery, so CARES officials are asking the public for more donors and volunteers.
Theresa Brock is coordinating the Bill Payer Program for the nonprofit Community Aging and Retirement Services, based in Hudson. The program is in need of $25,000 for continued expansion.
“CARES has been getting an increased number of calls for this service and we would like to expand the program to respond to the demand,” Brenda Martyniak, CARES communications director, said.
The Bill Payer Program is one of many services CARES provides for older adults and their families, Martyniak explained in a press release.
The goal is to promote quality of life and independence for adults through health, social and supportive services, many of them at five “enrichment centers” around the county.
Usually, individuals who need the Bill Payer Program are older adults who may have a physical impairment, such as poor vision, or have difficulty remembering to pay their bills on time.
Often, they do not have family or friends to help them. When financial affairs of an older adult go unattended, there is a risk of foreclosure, eviction, utility shut-off, or the loss of independence and ability to remain in their homes.
The Bill Payer Program helps by providing trained, background-checked volunteers who go to an individual’s home to organize their bills, prepare checks for signing, balance financial statements and review monthly budgets.
The program is monitored through monthly reporting and quarterly reviews that guard both the client and volunteer.
With exploitation of the elderly on the increase, CARES Bill Payer Program helps to protect those that are vulnerable. An example of this was documented in 2010, when a CARES volunteer uncovered the theft of $3,000 dollars from an 86-year-old New Port Richey woman by a certified home health aide. The result was the aide’s recent conviction and loss of her nursing assistant license.
“Since the CARES Bill Payer program does not receive any government funding, we are asking the community to consider ways to support the program and extend its reach to more people that need this vital service,” Bill Aycrigg, CARES president and CEO, said in the press release. “We are looking for corporate sponsors or generous individuals who would underwrite the program.”
Brock has contacted local businesses in the area about becoming benefactors. “We are also reaching out to churches, fraternal organization, clubs, professional groups and charitable individuals that would be willing to take on some fundraising efforts on our behalf. No contribution is too small,” Brock added.
For fundraising or sponsorship information call (727) 992-4051. People who would like to become a CARES Bill Payer volunteer, call or go online to www.caresfl.org/volunteer.