Local church and Council on Aging partner to help the elderly

Brandie Richardson @B_Lifestyles
Volunteers work together to create handicap ramps for senior citizens.

  GONZALES – The Ascension Council on Aging has joined the First United Methodist Church of Gonzales on their “Helping Hands” ministry, a project designed to help with home improvements for senior citizens and disabled members in the Parish.

     The Helping Hands project first began in June by the First UMC as a way to give back to the community.

     “Helping Hands was created because we realized we have so many needs for home repairs and construction projects such as wheel chair ramps in our own community,” said Helping Hands co-chairperson, Ed Holton. “We wanted to do missions not only in other parts of the country and world, but wanted the ministry to serve the people of Ascension Parish and the surrounding areas.”

     Holton said that the partnership with the Council on Aging has been beneficial to the project as the council provides sources to finding those in need of assistance.

     “The Council on Aging is such a great source of referrals,” he said. “They are out in the community and in touch with many of the elderly who are in need of services, but can't afford it.”

     Since there are many citizens in need of assistance in the community, upon request for service, the Council and Helping Hands volunteers go to the site and assess the issue. From a similar site visit, the upcoming ramp was prioritized.

     “When I get [applications] I look at the need,” said Ascension Council on Aging Executive Director Darlene Schexnayder. “If it is a older senior with more mobility issues then we will pick them first. There are seniors who are starting to have mobility issues, but can still walk and so they may not be high criteria at the moment. We pick those in wheel chairs first.”