PATRICIA O’MELIA

Daily Point of Light # 3041 Sep 30, 2005

In January 2000, Pat began volunteering as the Program Director to establish Helping Hands of Vegas Valley. In 2004, Pat successfully wrote three grants totaling $644,000 and volunteered 655 hours last year to ensure that the grants were properly executed and reported. She also volunteered her time to help many seniors who had no other way to get a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping. She also goes shopping every other week to keep the food pantry stocked for seniors that need a little extra food to make it until their next Social Security Check.

The grants that Pat successfully obtained resulted in Helping Hands of Vegas Valley being able to operate and expand the Volunteer Care, Pantry, and the Respite Care Voucher Programs and begin operation of the Wheelchair Accessible Van Program. These programs are now serving over 1,200 low-income seniors in the community.

Many Helping Hands clients can no longer drive themselves and their health prevents them from using public transportation. Pat and other volunteers escort them to medical appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands. This has the additional benefit of providing companionship. Pat also makes trips to the Local Food Bank and/or Costco to stock the Pantry and in 2004 Helping Hands distributed over 20,000 pounds of food. Once a month seniors with an income less than $973 can obtain nearly four days worth of food (canned meats, vegetables, soup, fruit, etc.).

The Respite Voucher Program grant that Pat also obtained is administered for the State of Nevada Division for Aging Services. This program provides 345 caregivers who are caring for frail seniors around the clock to obtain a grant of up to $1000 enabling them to have someone provide needed relief. When a senior passes away or their needs are greater than the caregiver can undertake and they are placed in a nursing home, the remaining funds from the awarded grant are then passed on to another usually desperate caregiver, resulting in an average of 500 caregivers receiving benefits from this program.

In early 2004, a local doctor donated a handicap accessible van to Helping Hands. Because of Pat’s grantwriting abilities the van is now used to transport wheelchair bound seniors who can not utilize other resources such as the city bus and do not qualify for the CAT ParaTransit. Since the program began providing service in December 2004, 12 seniors have received transportation in the van and with the food deliveries for qualifying seniors in the VCP the van has made nearly 100 trips to assist those most needy.

As the nation’s senior population continues to grow, many move to Nevada to retire. Transplant or life long resident alike, as they age, their health begins to deteriorate and they are no longer able to take care of themselves. Many times their family is not here with them and they find themselves in a situation where they have no support. It is particularly difficult when a partner dies leaving the remaining spouse totally alone. With Pat’s skill for writing grants and her drive and determination to help, hundreds of seniors are being assisted with dignity and compassion while taxpayers are saving thousands of dollars by keeping local seniors independent rather than institutionalized.

Stay Connected

Sign up for email updates and the latest news from Points of Light!