RSO lends a hand to families in need
Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 02:02
Patricia Wise retired early so she could devote more time to taking care of her disabled mother, Addie, and her sister, Christine, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
While being her relatives' primary caregiver can be challenging, Patricia receives a helping hand each week from a group of university students.
Student volunteers from the resident student organization Lori's Hands assist Patricia in her caregiving tasks, organizing her relatives' house and maintaining their yard, which allows her to focus more time on providing them with care.
"What's great about this group is it gives the caregiver support, so the primary caregiver can give support," Patricia said. "I am grateful for Lori's Hands because they help me give the necessary support because I don't want to put them in a home."
Lori's Hands was created two years ago by senior and group president Sarah LaFave in honor of her mother, who died of breast cancer. The group provides assistance for older and disabled people like Addie and Christine, she said.
"[My mom] was a really giving person and she taught me a lot about the importance of doing things for the community," LaFave said. "I also had seen when someone has a chronic illness, there isn't always as much support as they need, and I felt like college students would be really capable of giving that kind of support to people."
Treasurer Jennifer McCord, who began helping the Wise family last spring, visits Addie and Christine approximately once a week. During her visits, she organizes their house so they can easily access the things they need.
"Addie really enjoys making crafts because she never liked her job, so she decided she would spend her days crafting after she retired," McCord said. "One of the projects we worked on with her was organizing her crafting supplies and things like that in a craft room."
On Thursday, McCord went to the Wise's residence for her weekly visit. The house was decorated with Christmas lights, a small tree in the corner and other holiday decorations, an unusual sight in February.
"Addie's sister came to visit and they never get to see each other," she said. "Since they were going to be exchanging presents, Addie wanted to keep the Christmas decorations up."
McCord had decorated the house in December for Christmas and spent her most recent visit removing all of the decorations.
Addie and Christine are just a few of the clients Lori's Hands works with. When the organization was founded, it only served one client. Today it has a dozen clients, McCord said.
"We were talking about [Lori's Hands] as a group of friends invested in it because of Sarah's story, but then the more we got into volunteering, the more it meant to us," she said. "It's been heartening to see how much other students have gotten into it the more we talked to them about it."
Because Lori's Hands has grown at the university, LaFave said the organization is in the process of expanding and establishing chapters at other campuses.
Over the holiday season, an article about Lori's Hands appeared in USA Today which recognized the group as "holiday heroes" who spread holiday cheer year round. After reading the article, students from California State University Chico and University of Maryland contacted LaFave about setting up chapters at their respective institutions, she said.
While plans are in the works to expand to other campuses, LaFave and the other founders of Lori's Hands will be graduating from the university in May. She has begun to question the future of the group at the university.
"We want to start small and make sure this is successful on our campus and that it lasts after we leave," LaFave said. "Delaware is really our first priority right now."