Scottsdale Beat the Heat Program serves homebound seniors

Scottsdale resident Lucy Davis looks on as city social workers deliver a bag full of summer survival items provided by community donations. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Scottsdale resident Lucy Davis looks on as city social workers deliver a bag full of summer survival items provided by community donations. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

When Scottsdale resident Lucy Davis was a teenager she rode her horse, Sonnyboy, up and down Camelback Mountain. Ms. Davis still lives in Scottsdale — the same house for 30 years now — but she is in need of a little more help these days.

That’s where the Scottsdale “Beat the Heat” Program comes in.

Scottsdale Human Services Specialists Leslie Lory and Cynthia Salk Thursday, June 25 delivered a Beat the Heat bag to Ms. Davis’ home.

“We talk a lot about nothing,” Ms. Davis said of the routine visits conducted by Scottsdale social workers. “Mostly horses and dogs, that kind of thing.”

These bags include bottled water, conditioner, grocery gift cards, and snacks, among other helpful items.

“Oh I think it’s very nice,” Ms. Davis said. “I think it’s wonderful for people that really need it, you know. Actually, I love the company more than anything else.”

Ms. Davis was quite the host for her company this week as she was quick to offer everyone in her small, dimly-lit living room a bottle of water. When her guests politely declined, she offered a shot of whiskey instead.

“It means a lot to me, just to have them come makes it really nice,” Ms. Davis said. “I don’t have too much company here. I just sit here day and night by myself — me and the dog. If I didn’t have her, I don’t know what I’d do.”

A view of the Beat the Heat care package hand-delivered by Scottsdale social workers Thursday, June 25.

A view of the Beat the Heat care package hand-delivered by Scottsdale social workers Thursday, June 25.

Ms. Davis, who is legally blind, is just one of over 220 Scottsdale seniors who benefit from the summer program, and according to Scottsdale city officials that number is rising every year.

Ms. Salk says some homebound seniors simply do not have enough money to live on their own.

“There are seniors who still don’t own a home,” she pointed out. “The numbers of seniors are growing and people are living on Social Security. It’s very difficult to pay rent, pay your electric bill and buy groceries, especially in the summer, which is why we need this program too.”

In addition to keeping the elderly company and delivering a bag, the social workers also check for odd smells and make sure the temperature in the home is appropriate.

Ms. Lory says social workers can also provide the elderly with packets on depression, elder abuse, how to find good caregivers, and other information.

“If we are concerned about somebody we usually have a name of a family member that we can contact or we can brainstorm — maybe this person would benefit from home-delivered meals or maybe some light housekeeping or some personal care,” Ms. Lory said. “So we try to do what we can and gather the resources we can to assist them.”

She also says the program is important because it allows social workers to check on homebound seniors who would otherwise only be visited when home-delivered meals arrive.

“This gives us a chance to get into the home and see how we can help folks,” Ms. Lory said. “It really is great, because sometimes they don’t have any visitors or any family at all.”

All of the items in the Beat the Heat bag are donations. According to Ms. Lory, the city does not purchase anything. The program began in 1999, and an e-mail list of donors helps the program remain well-stocked.

Ms. Lory says donors call and ask what the program needs the most.

“We can say ‘we need deodorant.’ People will go out shopping and be so generous, they’ll come in with 30 things of deodorant to give to the folks,” Ms. Lory said. “It’s been a great program.”

Ms. Salk says one way to increase donations to the program, which are accepted every April and passed out late in June, is to make Scottsdale residents aware of the need.

“It’s really important for people to know that there are people in Scottsdale who are in need,” Ms. Salk said. “That’s why we’re trying to help people realize that the need is real and it is out there.”

The summer heat in the Valley is unbearable for many, and the Beat the Heat program helps homebound seniors like Ms. Davis get the assistance they need, city officials contend.

“Oh if I didn’t have them I don’t know what I’d do,” Ms. Davis said. “They’re wonderful.”

Scottsdale Independent Sports Correspondent Justin Maskulinski can be contacted at jmaskulinski@newszap.com. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/Maskulinski.

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