When Cathleen Hartman hung up the phone with the nursing home director, she was surprised at the wave of emotions flooding through her. She had recently accepted a volunteer position as chairperson of the nursing home division of a local nonprofit in Kansas City. Her branch of the nonprofit distributed gifts to residents of senior living facilities during the holidays.
In her call with the director, Mrs. Hartman had learned that in this and many other nursing homes, nursing home staff members pool together money to purchase holiday gifts for low income elderly residents.
“[Staff members] spend their own money to buy residents gifts, because they love their residents,” Mrs. Hartman said. She added that even though nursing home staff members are often underpaid, “they go deep into their own pockets to purchase these gifts.”
The conversation became a call to action for Mrs. Hartman. “I felt even more determined to help the elderly, to make our efforts large and impactful,” she said. Over the next few years, Mrs. Hartman helped grow the nursing home division until it served twice as many residents—up to 600 seniors per year. The number of nursing homes served increased from 11 to 17.
Mrs. Hartman recalled attending one holiday party in an Alzheimer’s unit. “It was difficult at best to watch people with advanced Alzheimer’s,” she said. “But there was that brief moment, when they received a blanket, or doll… their faces lit up, and there was real joy.”
After four years as chairperson, however, Mrs. Hartman and her husband left Kansas City and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. She searched for a similar nonprofit, but ultimately found nothing equivalent. Together with a couple of friends, Mrs. Hartman started discussions with local nursing home directors and nonprofits that assist seniors. In the end, she and her friends opted to begin their own nonprofit, ElderTLC.
Mrs. Hartman hopes ElderTLC can expand rapidly to serve many nursing homes in the Phoenix area. With a fundraiser on the horizon and the application filed for nonprofit status submitted, she anticipates ElderTLC will begin distributing gifts next holiday season.
“I really think people forget how lonely the holidays can be for elderly people. A gift, however small, lets them know that they are remembered,” Mrs. Hartman said. It is only with the help the community will we be able to make ElderTLC a success.”
If you are interested in volunteering for ElderTLC, please contact Mrs. Hartman at email@example.com. In addition, monetary donations of any size are greatly appreciated!
My name is Cathleen and I moved to the Phoenix area about five years ago. In the previous state where I lived, I was the department chairperson in charge of distributing items/gifts to financially challenged residents in senior living facilities during the holiday season. My last year as chairperson, we served over 600 residents in 17 nursing homes. Our numbers grew every year as our older population continued to live longer and their needs became more. We shopped and collected items year round, sorted them, boxed them up and had them distributed to senior living facilities where their representative distributed them according to the need. My last year there, we distributed 563 sweatshirts, 408 slipper socks, 220 blankets, and 247 puzzle books.
After moving to Phoenix, I searched for a similar nonprofit, but was unable to find anything that was similar to the one I chaired.
One evening, I was expressing my desire to bring joy to lonely seniors during the holiday season like I previously chaired. I wanted the Greatest Generation to know they are not forgotten! My friends, Linda and Tracy, said they would to join me in my search and together we would figure out how to do this. After many months of talking to directors of nursing homes, nonprofit organizations focused on senior living centers, and individuals, we decided that forming our nonprofit is the best path.
This huge undertaking is mind boggling! With the help of Lodestar at ASU, I am in the process of filing Articles or Incorporation, filling out the 1023, writing an extensive narrative, creating bylaws, applying for a nonprofit status and a EIN number and I’m sure some things I don’t even know about yet! I am learning amazing things about the government process of paying attention to details and using specific wording. I am nervous that I will forget something or make a blunder that may set us back. We are excited to get through this process to move on to helping seniors which is our desire.
My expectation for ElderTLC, Inc is not the numbers that I posted above, although it wouldn’t surprise me if we were serving those numbers in a few years, but to start out with a manageable number of seniors in living facilities for 2017. We have a plan for a fundraiser in February with the hopes to raise enough money to serve the residents in 2-5 living facilities. As soon as we receive our tax exempt status, we are ready to go out and start asking for donations! Our plan is a good one. Now we need the approval from the government, money and donations from businesses and individuals, and volunteers to help with requesting donations, shopping, sorting, boxing and distributing. I know we can make this work.
Meanwhile, my desk is covered with papers, and my mind is overloaded with applications and the correct words needed to move this process along. Sigh …maybe I’ll get another cup of coffee.
President of ElderTLC