ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A small group of city employees are making a difference in the lives of Albuquerque’s older residents, all free of charge. However, some workers say many seniors don’t know their service exists.
Shortly after dawn, crews are already knocking on Walter Bell’s door, ready to get to work. With bad knees from a past injury, simple things like taking a bath bring daily struggles for him. The city’s Senior Services are installing shower reinforcement bars, a shower seat and a raised toilet seat.
“Can’t imagine the help these guys are and it seems the help that they give, it’s a priority. Especially when you’re older and strapped for cash and assistance, these guys are on top,” said Bell, a local senior. “They’ve been assisting me for like a year. They’ve helped me with my roof, actually, the air conditioning on my roof. They turn my air on in the summer and my heat on in the winter. They help me with pickup for large items, they’ve even helped me in my backyard with cleaning areas. I’ve been able to get a lot done. I’ve saved thousands of dollars. I really appreciate them.”
The city crew, part of the City of Albuquerque’s Department of Senior Affairs, packs up and heads over to the home of Mariposa Varela and Carlos Jara. This time, they need the smoke detector batteries changed, now, too hard to get to.
“We can no longer do the things we used to do. My daughter helps us out a lot, but man, there’s just so many things that have to be done now that we own a home,” said Varela. “We always have needs, I’d say, at least four times a year. They don’t just do one thing at a time. They can come and do multiple things.”
They say the Senior Services crews make a big difference in their lives. The workers are available to help whenever they’re in need, especially when they’re unable to physically do something.
“They do the work that needs to be done,” said Jara. “If I could I would get down there, but actually, I can’t.”
Senior Services helps with everything from transportation to home chores and repairs, which the Home Services crew takes on. They often will do yard and hazard clean-up, air conditioning updates, firewood deliveries, installation of fall safety devices and wheelchair ramps, and even minor plumbing and home repairs.
Ralph Garcia says it’s a service available to seniors in the metro but most don’t use it. They help every day, with just a few hands on deck.
“We provide services to all the senior community in Bernalillo County, from the edge of Moriarty to Rio Puerco and from Sandia Casino down to Isleta Casino,” said Garcia, construction supervisor. “We do this with eight guys and four office staff so we’re pretty busy.”
The services save many local thousands of dollars, with these helping hands ready to go, whatever the stop may need. Senior Services are available for anyone 60 years or older, who lives in Bernalillo County. The service can be requested by calling 505-764-6400.
Garcia says they desperately need volunteers for the upcoming season to help with servicing the area. They accept volunteers of all ages and are open to corporate volunteer days. Volunteers can sign up online.