Senior Services return to IWV

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Senior Services return to IWVWhile the care of a child is widely recognized as a responsibility of the village, the needs of those on the opposite end of the age spectrum can often be overlooked when time and circumstance leave seniors without a support system.

“That is one thing I have noticed about living in Ridgecrest — you see a lot of elderly people who are the last man standing,” said Jenny Jimenez, coordinator of Homemaker Services.

That program, which offers aid to eligible seniors with anything from running errands to housework to meal prep to simple human contact, has been restored as part of a suite of services funded by a grant from Kern County Department on Aging, facilitated by Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

IWV Senior Services, which provided support to the elder population for more than a decade, announced almost a year ago that it would be closing its doors within a few months — leaving hundreds of seniors without their safety net. During that time, RRH leadership began the process of returning those critical programs to seniors living in our remote community.

Susan Bodnar, who has spearheaded the effort to return service to the valley, said the county grant will fund not only Homemaker Services, but also case management, information and referral anfacilitation of support groups for caregivers.

She has been making the rounds at local senior centers and other gathering places to enroll eligible seniors — which include those who are 60 years or older and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and related disorders, who are isolated, or who are in great economic need.

“We just started signing people up, but the program is growing,” said Bodnar.

“I can tell you that I have not been hugged so much as I have in the last three weeks by seniors who are happy that this is available again.”

“I’ve never met people who are as grateful as the senior citizens in our community,” said Jimenez.

“It really touches your heart to be able to hear about the lives they have led, the stories they have to tell.

“They deserve dignity and respect — to be treated the way you would treat your own grandparents.”

Eligibility and service vary, but Bodnar said that anyone interested in inquiring about enrollment — for themselves or for a loved one — should call 760-371-1445 or stop by 417 W. Drummond Ave.

Bodnar noted that the program is also hiring qualified staff (employment information available at www.rrh.org), and looking for individuals who can volunteer their time.

“We are pleased to be able to continue the important senior services program,” said RRH CEO Jim Suver.

“Under Susan’s caring oversight, we hope to enhance and expand these programs in the future.

“RRH believes that community outreach is great for our residents and also supports a great quality life in Ridgecrest. I am excited about additional programs in the future.”

Pictured: Susan Bodnar (left) and Jenny Jimenez are coordinating programs out of the former location of IWV?Senior Services on Drummond Avenue. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-02-03