A story of how community action helped a senior citizen in Grundy County. The service was provided by Kendall-Grundy Department of Health and Human Services who operates the Community Services Block Grant Program in Kendall and Grundy counties.
The Kendall-Grundy Department of Health and Human Services received a concerned call from a Senior Program Case Worker about an 88-year old woman who was living in a home with a dilapidated roof. Water was coming through the ceiling in many places and the woman was concerned that her ceiling may collapse. She was hoping that the Kendall-Grundy office would have grant funds that could provide her with assistance. Due to the urgency, the situation was reviewed immediately.
When Kendall-Grundy staff arrived at the residence it was very evident, even from the street, that the roof was in need of repair. The elderly woman, who had difficulty getting to the door, greeted the staff. After explaining who they were and why they were there, the staff were shown through the tidy house. As they walked through the house the woman pointed out where water was coming in. She had lived in the house for 73 years and it still had original paint and wallpaper on the walls. This concerned the staff because lead paint was present. The paint had such a consistency that it was holding the water in pockets in the ceiling. The plaster underneath was disintegrating. There was concern that part of her ceiling may come down as it had over the refrigerator and the hot water heater in the past. Bare plaster and wood were showing as a result of this and mold had begun to grow which also concerned the staff.
While continuing to assess the situation, the staff found that the woman’s hot water heater had not worked for over a year. She also didn’t have a bathtub. Instead, she heated up water on her 1950’s stove, and used a utility sink to take a bath. She had an old wringer washing machine that she still used to wash her clothes. She told stories about how the clothes would freeze when she hung them out to dry in the winter. She had no television and the radio was on very loud because of her loss of hearing. Venturing outside the staff found a chimney that was in bad shape and the roof on the back of the house was severely swayed.
The house was in such poor condition that grants funds were insufficient to create a safe environment for the woman. Other options were discussed with the woman including moving to Senior Housing. The woman was concerned and didn’t want to loose her independence and her home. She just wanted her roof fixed.
When the staff returned, a call was made to her son. Her son indicated that his family had been trying to get his mother to move for years and has been unsuccessful. The family had very little money to help her and welcomed any advice or counsel that Kendall-Grundy staff had. The Kendall-Grundy outreach coordinator made a call to a senior housing apartment complex not far from the woman’s home. The coordinator was informed that a vacancy existed and they could accommodate the woman immediately. The woman’s Senior Programs caseworker was contacted immediately with the news. The caseworker then contacted the family and the woman to try to convince her to move. Not long after that Kendall-Grundy received a call from the woman’s son telling them she had decided to move. She moved into the first floor apartment in her same neighborhood and for the first time she had a bathtub and other modern conveniences that many people today take for granted. Because Kendall-Grundy is a community action agency, they were also able to provide her with assistance on her utility bill.
This was a happy ending to a tragic situation. It was achieved through joint case management and communication with all the local service agencies. Because of the successful networking, community action was able to make the difference in the life of a senior citizen.