Emerge Lakeland Helps Deliver 50 Care Boxes To Local Elderly
by James Coulter
Suppose you discovered that you were out of toilet paper or paper towels. What would you do? You’d probably check your closet or back room for an extra roll. And if you didn’t find any there? You’d probably drive out to the store to buy more.
But what if you couldn’t drive? What if you couldn’t leave the house? What if you were a senior citizen who was unable to freely leaving the house? What then?
Fortunately, Volunteers In Service Of The Elderly (VISTE) has developed a solution for local senior citizens living in Lakeland. Twice a year they deliver care packages filled with laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, and other toiletries to people who would otherwise be unable to visit the store for those items, either due to age or disability.
Recently, on Thursday afternoon, VISTE received the help of Emerge Lakeland, a local young professional organization, whose members helped volunteer their time to help deliver such care boxes to the local elderly.
During the event on Thursday afternoon, more than 19 Emerge members visited the VISTE office along Magnolia Avenue, where they gathered within the multipurpose room for lunch and a special presentation by one of VISTE’s head members. Each of the participating Emerge members then received several boxes to deliver to local clients within the next month.
This was the second year that Emerge Lakeland helped make deliveries for VISTE. Sarah Betzer, Volunteer Chief of Emerge Lakeland, had known about the great work that VISTE does for the local Lakeland community and considered it a great opportunity for her fellow members to volunteer their time helping the organization’s efforts.
“I know last year when I delivered to some of these clients, that it was a real blessing to meet them, interact with them, and talk to them,” she said. “I know it helps brighten their day because many of them cannot get out in the community, so it is something we are able to help them with.”
With this being their second year, this year’s event received around the same level of participation as last year. Betzer credits this to Emerge’s willingness to engage in the local community and help out however they can.
“I think it is successful because we have members who want to give back and I know we want to give back to our community,” she said. “So we love organizations like VISTE that we can partner with to deliver these boxes with people in need.”
The care box delivery program is one of the many ways that VISTE assists local senior citizens. The program is hosted twice a year, with the next one to be hosted later this December. More than 400 local residents are assisted through this program, explained Audrey Allen, Community Engagement Assistant.
For the past 36 years, VISTE has hosted such programs to help local residents who are age 70 and over, helping those who are unable to leave their house unattended due to advanced age or disability. Through their organization, they serve up to 4,000 people a year through the efforts of 1,000 volunteers, Allen said.
“Oftentimes, it is not the physical limitations that are so daunting for our clients, it is the loneliness, the sense that they are forgotten,” Allen said. “That is why VISTE exists, and that is why volunteers are so important to our mission and our elderly. People still care and they still are looking out for them.”
VISTE is located at 1232 E Magnolia St, Lakeland, FL 33801. For more information, call 863-284-0828, or visit their website at: http://viste.org/