Low-income seniors find welcome help from city - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Low-income seniors find welcome help from city

April 25th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Low-income seniors find welcome help from city

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

In 2019, the City of Chandler was looking for ways to help its older residents, especially those on fixed incomes.

Officials looked at their neighborhood enhancement coordinator and said, “What can we do?”

“I was tasked with coming up with a new program that we could introduce to our community,” said Priscilla Quintana, who is the city’s neighborhood enhancement coordinator. “In the research, I found that 6% of our population in Chandler was living on a fixed income or was living alone and they were facing a lot of different challenges.”

Those challenges include financial instability, having to choose between paying for medication or personal hygiene products. She said that is how they came up with the Golden Neighbors program.

Two weeks ago, officials set aside part of the parking garage at City Hall to display some personal hygiene items as well as other goods, such as laundry detergent. It invited residents to come pick up what they needed.

Quintana said they hope to repeat the experience next month and keep it going as long as they have goods to hand out.

“Not having them pick between I have to pay a bill this month, a medical bill, or buy something to keep my house going,” she said.

The Salvation Army provided many of the goods handed out so far, she said. Army workers purchase items in bulk from Amazon, and some of those items are not right for the people they care for. Few homeless people have need or a place to store a large bottle of laundry detergent, for example.

They also get some items, such as car care products, that they can’t use. Those were the ones they donated to the city. Quintana said they’re still trying to figure out what to do with all the car care items, but they want to put everything to good use.

She said they also had a discussion with Amazon, which gave them a $20,000 grant for the Golden Neighbors program. Those two sources of donations have helped launch the program with three events so far.

In December, the city kicked off the program by handing out goods to people inside the public housing program. They handed out 15 baskets just before the holidays.

The second event was in February when they gave 10 baskets of household goods to the Senior Center for them to award at its Valentine’s Day dance.

At this month’s event, officials handed out goods to 70 households, Quintana said. They hope to repeat it again next month. Then it will depend on if more donations come in or not.

She said if anyone in the community can spare a bottle of detergent, or a roll of toilet paper, or any other household goods and they want to donate them to Golden Neighbors she would appreciate it. She said that’s the only way to keep the program going.

Quintana said her hope is that helping seniors is not a once-in-a-month event.

“It shouldn’t become an event for us to be able to assist someone,” Quintana said. “It should be that if somebody is in dire need of some of these items, they can reach out to us and we can connect them with those items they need.”

Quintana said her office gets calls from seniors asking for help. Their air conditioning might have gone out and they don’t have the extra funds to get it repaired. They may no longer be able to use the stairs in front of their homes and need a ramp put in.

That’s where she hopes Golden Neighbors and a sister program, Let’s Pull Together, can fill the gaps. The second program is where volunteers will go to someone’s home and help with yard work or if the home is in violation of city codes, get it into compliance.

“We’re always going to need to help our seniors, whether it’s with physical items or giving them that social interaction and letting them know that they do have somebody that is looking out for them, and someone who cares about our aging population,” Quintana said. “Because the truth of the matter is, we’re all going to be there.”

How to Help

If you would like to donate goods to Golden Neighbors, or volunteer to help seniors in Let’s Pull Together, call 480-782-4362 or text “Golden Neighbors” to 44-321.