Our Stories

  1. A Little Bit Goes A Long Way
  2. Putting the Shoe on the Other Foot – A Lesson in Aging
  3. Caregivers Need Help, Too

Sometimes All It Takes is a Helping Hand 

“I don’t need a pill.  I just need some help!” These are the words of Ernie M., who has multiple medical conditions, sees eight different doctors, yet like many seniors, is determined to make it on his own.

Seventy-seven-year-old Ernie is a proud Veteran, having served in the Air Force in communications from 1949 to 1952.  He joined the NH Air National Guard after returning home from the Air Force, and retired from the armed forces in 1972, later becoming a maintenance worker at Hampshire Chemical.

Ernie lives in the Manchester home he has owned for more than 50 years.  His wife died a couple of years ago, leaving him with only his two daughters, one of whom has schizophrenia.  While taking care of his daughter was hard even as a young man, it has become increasingly more difficult as he has aged because now, as he puts it, “My full-time job is taking care of myself.  I’m limited on what I can do physically as well as financially.”

Because of limited income and frailty, plus multiple medical conditions including open-heart surgery and pulmonary problems, much-needed repairs and maintenance to his home and yard had been neglected.  When he voiced his growing concerns about his inability to make needed repairs and maintain his home, his doctor wanted to treat him for anxiety and depression with medication.  Ernie refused, stating that he did not need more medicine, just a helping hand.And help he received through Seniors Count. During one of Seniors Count’s Spring Clean-ups, Seniors Count worked with Trinity High School to organize a team of students to help him stain his deck, put up a fence, weatherproof his foundation and paint his living room ceiling.  Later, the Heritage United Way organization helped by sending a team of volunteers to help him clear brush, rake his lawn and rebuild his garbage bin.

The door to Ernie’s house also needed to be replaced before the winter because it was warped and wasn’t closing properly.  Seniors Count Flex Spending Funds helped by buying a new door and had a carpenter install it as well as an emergency button to press in case he falls in his home and needs help.

Ernie’s story speaks to the essence of what collaboration and partnerships with a purpose is all about. Partners from Seniors Count Community Liaison Heritage United Way, Trinity High School, ServiceLink and funds from the Seniors Count Flexible Spending Initiative resulted in an elderly gentleman getting help with several home maintenance needs.  All he really needed was a bit of help here and there to keep him in his home and out of a nursing home. “I don’t want to go to a nursing home.  My goal is to stay in my own home for as long as I can, hopefully for the rest of my life,” Ernie said.

Ernie is one of hundreds helped by the Seniors Count Home Maintenance (Spring/Fall Clean-up) Initiative.  By coming together, partners have established a mechanism by which our community is addressing some standard recurring home maintenance needs such as lawn clean up, handyman work and window washing.  Assistance with home maintenance chores could not happen without the support of several organizations and many volunteers. Two times a year, partners and over 300+ community volunteers perform seasonal home maintenance tasks serving approximately 300 seniors.  Partners include Southern NH Services, ServiceLink Resource Center, Heritage United Way, Easter Seals NH, American Red Cross, Elliot Health System and Visiting Nurse Association.