Locals in need to get more CARE

PORTERDALE -- What began as a charitable effort at Christmastime to help a needy family in Porterdale has expanded to a year-round program that will assist the needy, as well as help the elderly in the city stay connected and involved with the community.

Porterdale City Councilwoman Linda Finger said her involvement with assisting a local family over the holidays prompted her to launch the Community Assistance Relief Effort for Porterdale residents. Finger formed the CARE committee under the auspices of The Friends of Porterdale, which will help people who need assistance with utility bills, clothing, food or other needs. If CARE can't provide what is needed, Finger said the committee will work to get residents in touch with agencies that can help them.

Finger said she is working with local organizations and churches to solicit donations for the CARE fund. Donations will be disbursed through The Friends of Porterdale, she said.

"Anyone who wants to donate to help someone in the community can donate to The Friends of Porterdale and it will be a tax write-off for them," Finger said.

Porterdale offers a hardship application for residents who are having difficulty paying their water bills, Finger said. At the bottom of that form is a release that allows the resident's information to be shared with other agencies. By checking that release, Finger said, information can be distributed to other agencies that also might be able to lend a hand

The Friends of Porterdale is a nonprofit corporation which is "a collaboration of like-minded and like-hearted individuals, who are interested in preserving the historical integrity of the city of Porterdale while simultaneously promoting the positive image of a community that is well known for its family values and the well being of all who reside there," according to the organization's Web site. More information can be found at www.friendsofporterdaleinc.org.

In an effort to do more for the senior citizens living in Porterdale, Finger is working to get them more involved and active in community life. Finger said it became painfully clear after several elderly residents died alone in their homes that seniors can become isolated. Finger said her goal is to offer activities and volunteer opportunities for those seniors who are interested and to provide a way for those living alone to stay in touch with others -- either through a phone tree or other means.

"It's just sad that no one is checking on these people," Finger said.

Finger will host a town hall meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday at City Hall to gauge seniors' interest in participating in programs in Porterdale. Finger will offer a survey on activities and programs for seniors to complete so she can see what would generate the most interest.

One project that Finger would like to launch right away to aid senior citizens is making sure that they all have house numbers on their homes. Many don't, she said.

"If they were to call 911, that may delay the fire department or emergency services from finding their houses," Finger said. "We can at least reach the seniors and make sure they have numbers on their homes."