NEW PORT RICHEY — With more older residents staying in their homes longer, officials of the CARES Bill Payer program issued a call in March for more funds to keep up with demand.
The public responded in a big way, said Brenda Martyniak, CARES communications director
With private donations and a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the assistance program will continue in Pasco County and expand into Hernando County.
Bill Payer gives older adults help managingtheir monthly financial tasks. After training and background checks, the volunteers go to an individual’s home and help organize their bills, prepare checks for signing, balance financial statements and review monthly budgets.
Usually, people who need the program are elderly 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.
The CARES Bill Payer program can help people retain their independence, allowing them to continue to live in their own homes, Theresa Brock, Bill Payer coordinator, said.
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.
In 2010 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.
“We are grateful that the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay provided the grant and recognized the value of helping people stay independent and stay at home,” CARES President and CEO Bill Aycrigg said in a press release. “Some generous private donations were also made. The community response demonstrates the need to sustain the Bill Payers program and expand services into Hernando County. We continue to look for sponsors to grow the program with even greater success.”
“We are in the process of recruiting volunteers that would like to help us in Pasco County and introduce our program into Hernando,” Brock added. “Our volunteers meet at the client’s home at least once a month. They are monitored and well trained. It’s an extremely rewarding experience to have such a direct and positive impact.”
To become a CARES Bill Payer volunteer or make a donation to the program, go online to www.caresfl.org/volunteer or call (727) 992-4051.