Realtors assist seniors, homebound

Photo Elliott Burr/ Town Crier
More than 100 volunteers from the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors helped 46 senior households in the Los Altos/Mountain View area during Realtor Service Volunteer Week. Nisha Sharma, left, washes window screens while Sandy Wihtol, right, and Nancy Manning, center, try to figure out where to hang one.

Volunteers from the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors helped seniors and the homebound with household tasks May 5. Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a blue-and-yellow logo that identified them as members of the Realtor Service Volunteer Program, workers descended on households to help homeowners and renters with chores they can no longer perform by themselves.

Seniors were grateful for the free service.

“I really appreciate the help,” said one 84-year-old senior, who has requested help for the past two years. “I still do quite a bit of the work myself. I even used to climb the stepladder, but my son gets worried about that, so I don’t do it anymore.”

Three volunteers visited her home to wash exterior windows, move a stove and refrigerator so she could clean underneath and replace her smoke-detector batteries. When volunteer Bill Moody climbed the stepladder to replace the battery, he noticed there were none. That sparked a memory for the senior homeowner.

“I remember taking it out, but I never replaced it, because I couldn’t reach to put the new one in,” she said.

Silicon Valley realtors officially adopted RSVP as a community outreach project in 2002, and it has since expanded to include realtor association members from other cities and counties.

Every May, realtors and affiliates help seniors and the homebound with household tasks, such as washing windows, installing smoke-detector batteries, flipping mattresses, vacuuming, dusting, replacing lightbulbs, changing furnace filters and trimming bushes.

Hilda Balakhane has helped seniors in different communities for the past two years and said she finds volunteering for the program gratifying.

“Before I became a realtor, I was a social worker,” Balakhane said. “I have always enjoyed helping others. This way, even as a realtor I can get the experience of social work.”

Outside the home of a 90-year-old Mountain View resident, the team of Balakhane, Nick French and Carol Casas loosened dirt in a flowerbed, swept the patio and carport, trimmed ivy in her front yard and washed windows.

“My children have gone and moved away, so it’s wonderful to have help. I couldn’t do it any other way,” the homeowner said. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.”

A Los Altos senior expressed her thanks for the work volunteers did in her home that morning. She said they really helped her, because she had not been well for the past couple of days.

This year, 275 volunteers assisted 152 senior households in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Atherton, Campbell, Menlo Park, East/Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Santa Clara, Saratoga, Monte Sereno and Los Gatos.

In Los Altos and Mountain View, 105 volunteers assisted 46 senior households.

The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors provided information for this article. For more information, e-mail Rose Meily at [email protected]

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