Outreach In The Hills
Outreach is a local community service organization. Reading from its mission statement: “Outreach in the Hills is a non-profit, tax exempt organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for persons involved with disabling illnesses. The primary objective is to assist the family or helper(s) in caring for the patient and to assist the patient in remaining independent.”
In practice, Outreach provides help in the following areas:
– TRANSPORTATION: taking people to doctor’s appointments, hospitals, shopping, etc.
– DAYTIME RESPITE CARE: relieving caregivers for needed breaks.
– DRIVERS FOR MEALS ON WHEELS: delivering meals to homebound residents.
– TELEPHONE PALS: keeping in touch.
This year, 2018, is the thirty-sixth anniversary of Outreach. The original organization was created in April 1982 as a Hospice Provider and as such was staffed by several healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, and many highly trained volunteers. Some of the founders were Dr. Paul Read, John McIntosh, Georgia Beasley, and Rev. Ellsworth Watson.
The demands of being a Hospice Provider proved to be too much for a volunteer community organization, so in 1987 a new direction was taken with the mission statement remaining the same. The current board members are Geary Leason, Administrator; Steve Sutay, Co-Administrator and Treasurer; Judy Leason, Secretary and Publicity; Shirley Sutay, Volunteer Coordinator; and Gail Carlo, Technical Support.
OUTREACH IN ACTION:
Through various means of publicity, a person with a need that may be able to be met by Outreach calls the Volunteer Coordinator, Shirley Sutay. Shirley will assess the caller’s needs, and if Outreach can help she will then arrange an appropriate response by a volunteer. Often, Shirley is that person.
The help that is most requested is to provide transportation to and from doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc.… Less frequent calls are to take someone shopping or to the hairdresser.
A typical trip would involve picking up the person at their residence and going, for example, to the Baptist Eye Clinic in Little Rock, or the VA in down town Little Rock or the Fort Roots VA in North Little Rock, or the hospitals in Heber Springs, Conway, and Clinton. The volunteer remains with the person throughout the visit.
Having an appropriate attitude is the key to being a happy and effective volunteer. The volunteer is making a gift of his or her time. The needs and well being of the person being served is where the focus should be, opposed to “how long is this going to take!”
Drivers are compensated only for gas mileage at the rate of 30 cents per mile. However, the volunteers are compensated in other more important areas, such as the inner blessing one receives for doing good deeds, and the opportunity to meet some very interesting people and make lifelong friends in the process.
MEALS ON WHEELS:
Outreach volunteers deliver an average of 15-20 meals per day, four times a week. The meals are planned, cooked, and prepared for delivery by the kitchen staff at the Senior Citizen’s Center in Fairfield Bay. The daily delivery is broken into two routes, each route taking about one hour to complete. There are about twenty volunteers who share in this service. There is no compensation for gas.
Giving timely relief to caregivers is a wonderful thing. There are many folks in the Bay afflicted with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other challenging health issues. Outreach recognizes what a toll these conditions can take on the spouse or family and friends, and stands by to give relief to the caregivers.
THE FINANCIAL PICTURE:
Outreach receives no government money…. no Federal reimbursements, no state subsidies, and no local municipal funds. Expenses are met only by donations from individuals and organizations. Outreach does not ask or require that people pay for the help they receive. Many recipients do recognize the expenses involved, and donate willingly. Outreach does receive some generous donations from local charitable organizations such as the Lion’s Club, the American Legion, and several Beta Sigma Phi sororities. Funds are used to reimburse volunteers for gas and some for postage.