Nonprofit Deploys Volunteers for Seniors’ Home Repairs

spectrumlocalnews.com

RICHARDSON, Texas —The nonprofit Network of Community Ministries in Richardson is experiencing a higher than normal amount of calls for assistance, because of the many hardships people are facing during this pandemic. The organization’s programs help with basic needs like food, clothing and rental assistance, as well as job searches and referral services. 

Prior to COVID-19, it was seeing an average of 150 families per week take advantage of its Food Pantry program’s offerings. Back in October, the nonprofit reported serving around 700 families weekly. In order to maintain that level of service, Network’s CEO Cindy Shafer put out an urgent plea for volunteers.  

“I implore that you help us because we really need to continue to help our neighbors. The needs are increasing, not decreasing. And we want to be able to continue to serve in the same capacity as we have been, but we need your help,” Shafer said in an October video message. “I know this community has always rallied to help one another and supported us as we’ve done that. And I know that this time won’t be any different.” 

 

Founded in 1985, Network’s service area includes 14 zip codes in Dallas County within Richardson ISD, and last year, the nonprofit served nearly 30,000 people. The various programs include assisting with basic needs, helping clients with emergency services like food, clothing and rent. Network also has stabilization programs, helping individuals with job searches, finding jobs that pay a living wage.  

For older individuals over 60, Network has an emergency services program focused on assisting seniors who meet the program’s qualifications. The seniors’ net consists of home deliveries of food, referral services and handyman services for minor home repairs. To see if you qualify to be a client, you must contact Network’s office to inquire about the senior programming by calling 972-234-8880. 

 

Suzy Rezk, 63, has been using Network’s help for the last four or five years. Recently, her home took in water, meaning a lot of her belongings ended up in her garage. Network’s cohort of volunteer handymen assisted her with clearing out space to get around her garage, even patching up a few spots with drywall. 

“The first day, because this place was filled up from top to bottom, I found out nine people came to me to help. And then two, and then four, it depends. They’ve been working, oh my gosh, for two or three weeks. They come two weeks to fix some and leave, fix some and leave. Amazing people,” Rezk said. “I told them that you are a blessing from God. In my situation, I don’t know what to do without them.” 

Rezk is disabled and deals with daily aches and pains from radiculopathies, carpal tunnel, and leg swelling. She also had part of her left lung removed, so even smaller trips, like carrying groceries inside from her car, are tough sometimes. 

“They cut my grass, they do this, I mean, come on, and this is volunteer. They don’t get paid. You know, volunteer. It’s just amazing,” Rezk said. “It is really amazing that they are doing that out of caring. Nobody’s forcing them to do anything. They love doing volunteer.” 

One of the goals of Network is to help seniors retain their independence as much as possible, with the assistance from their volunteers. According to the National Institute on Aging, staying in their own home as seniors age, or aging in place, is one of the most often-heard wishes of older people. Rezk doesn’t want to move out of her house, which is a common finding among those nearing old age. 

INSERT SUZY GARAGE PIC 

“I mean a lot of people told me ‘Why don’t you sell your house? Either you buy a condo, or go live with seniors and talk with seniors.’ First of all, I’m not that old,” Rezk said. “To have a home after long, long years, to stay in the house — It’s mine. I don’t want to be stuck in a home. I still want to feel that I can do something in this world. I want my independence. I want to have my own home. I want my kids to grow and have their children and everybody have a room to stay in and proud to have a grandma with a beautiful house.”

Rezk said she wants to see her future grandkids playing and enjoying dinners in her home, like her mother and grandmother used to do. 

“My mom used to have a family over every weekend and cook some food for them and it was that family gathering. I want to be that way. I want to make kids come home to to grandma’s house,” Rezk said. “I want to live, enjoy my life, see my children and grandchildren running in the house where their grandpa was.” 

And although having a cleared out garage may not seem like a blessing to some, for Rezk, it’s a part of her house she can now take pride in, thanks to help from Network. 

“The only thing I can tell you is they are angels sent to me by God. That’s the only thing I can tell you,” Rezk said. 

If you’d like to see if you qualify to become a client of Network, visit the nonprofit’s website here. The nonprofit also welcomes donations via this website, or through Amazon Smile. You can also drop off items from Network’s wish list at 741 S. Sherman St., in Richardson Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

 


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