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Local Initiative Helps Houstonians Age in Place

 

October 13-18 is National Aging in Place Week and two of Houston’s most respected and long-standing non-profit organizations which support the elderly are teaming up to celebrate.

Meals on Wheels and Rebuilding Together, thanks to a seed grant from ExxonMobil Corporation, are joining forces to help low-income seniors in Houston remain in their homes and, thus, “age in place.” The pilot project of this unique collaboration of caring culminates on October 18 when Rebuilding Together volunteers will begin making repairs to the home of Ms. Dorothy Rainey, a long-time resident on Houston’s northeast side.

“The benefits of aging in place transcend the individuals who comprise our ever-growing senior population,” says Jim Soller, executive director of Rebuilding Together in Houston. “As we like to say, ‘There’s no place like home,’ particularly when it comes to restoring hope and dignity to our elderly neighbors. But the value of enabling seniors to age in place also positively impacts the emotional health of extended families of the homeowner, the local communities where these families live and, in a real sense, our city as a whole, rekindling neighborhood pride and reducing the cost of institutional care for the aged.”

While Rebuilding Together provides no-cost home repair to low-income senior homeowners in need, Meals on Wheels, a program of the Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, serves warm and nutritious lunches to the elderly. A Meals on Wheels delivery driver first noticed the state of Mrs. Rainey’s home, which suffered extensive roof damage during Hurricane Ike six years ago. Confined to a wheelchair and on a fixed income, Mrs. Rainey was unable to find assistance, until Meals on Wheels placed her in contact with Rebuilding Together.

“Meals on Wheels is very important to our seniors,” says Andrea Fineman, communications manager at Interfaith Ministries. “Not only do we provide a home-cooked meal to those who might go hungry, but also we want to ensure that our clients can maintain their independence for as long as possible.”

With roof and internal repairs already completed, Mrs. Rainey eagerly awaits an experienced Rebuilding Together volunteer crew, made up of ExxonMobil employees, to put the finishing touches on the renovations to her home of some 46 years.

“The help of others means so much to me,” says Mrs. Rainey. “I’m so thankful there are people in this world who are able to help us, we that sometimes can’t help ourselves.

The ExxonMobil volunteer crew will begin putting the finishing touches on the Rainey home at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, October 18. They’re expected to complete their work sometime the afternoon of Saturday, October 25, at which time Dorothy Rainey’s home will have a new lease on life.

“I intend to walk again someday,” Ms. Rainey, 65, says. She suffered a stroke as a young adult, broke her hip in a car accident a decade later, and after suffering three broken toes in a fall some five years ago, has remained confined to her wheelchair.

Yet, she considers herself blessed and remains hopeful.

“This house means the world to me because it’s where I’ve raised my children and helped raise my children’s children,” says Ms. Rainey. “If my house can be almost like brand-new again, I have no doubt I can be, too.”

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