Outreach in the Hills
Outreach in the Hills is one of the many community volunteer organizations serving the residents of Fairfield Bay. In existence since 1982, Outreach in the Hills is a non-profit tax exempt organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for persons involved with disabling illnesses, with its primary objective being “to assist the family or helper in caring for the patient, and to assist the patient in remaining independent.” In practice, Outreach provides help in the following ways:
• Transportation – taking people to doctors, hospitals;
• Day Time Respite Care – relieving caregivers for needed breaks;
• Drivers for Meals on Wheels – delivering meals to shut-ins;
• Telephone Pals – people available for conversations, and consolation;
• Lifeline telephone setup – helping people in setting up this service.
Outreach in Action: How it works
A person with needs that can be met by Outreach calls the Volunteer Coordinator, Shirley Sutay, who will assess the caller’s needs and then arrange for the appropriate response. The help that is most needed is to provide transportation to doctors, hospital, and clinics.
A typical trip would involve picking up the person at their residence and going, for examples, to the Baptist Hospital, Carti, the VA in North Little Rock, and the VA in Downtown little Rock. Other destinations are the many eye clinics such as McNair, Baptist, Magee, and Baker. (There are a lot of cataracts that need fixing in the Bay.) The Outreach driver remains with the person from pickup through returning them to their residence and then making sure that they are secure in their home. Sometimes these trips involve a full day as in the case of dialysis patients whose treatments last about four hours. Often a lunch stop is part of the journey.
Outreach receives NO government money – no Fed, no state, no local. Outreach’s entire expenses are the reimbursements for gas expense paid to the volunteer drivers. Drivers are compensated at the current rate of 35 cents per mile. These expenses are met only by money donations from individuals and organizations, such as the American Legion, Exxon Mobil, Sororities, and many other civic minded groups. Outreach does not ask nor require that the people they serve pay anything, but if they would like to make a donation, Outreach is happy to receive it.
In the nine years 2003-2011, Outreach recorded over 100,000 miles of transport involving 1460 trips. Currently Outreach is doing about twenty trips per month
Over the years, many Fairfield Bay citizens have given their time and compassion to meet the goals of Outreach. The heavy-lifting, the backbone of the organization has been Shirley Sutay backed up by her husband Steve Sutay who serves as a driver and as Outreach’s treasurer. Currently there are about ten active trip drivers, and twenty Meals and Wheels drivers, several doing double service.
A mention here is to salute Nancy Johnson, who headed up a Grieving Ministry, (no longer active now) for several years, always a blessing to those who lost spouses. Also hats off to Ed McCutcheon, longtime volunteer, still active in Lifeline service of Outreach.
Our volunteers often are the most blessed in the operations of Outreach. Spending several hours with a person in need gives great opportunity to enjoy and share life stories that would otherwise not be known, and ultimately to gain and enjoy an new friendship. Such is what Outreach offers. Need help? Call Shirley Sutay 501-884-6706. Need to be a blessing and/or get a blessing as a volunteer, call Shirley 501-884-6617.