Advocacy: We stand as a voice for the voiceless in Linden.
At SSCH, this is our definition of advocacy as it relates to the work we do in our community. Today, I sat down with Kim Weimer, Lead Case Manager for Senior Services at SSCH. We spoke about advocacy, and the importance of advocating for the senior community.
“When I interviewed at St. Stephen’s, I was told that ‘we do whatever we can to help each person we serve,’ and to this day that still holds true,” said Kim.
Carol became a participant in our Senior Program a few years ago, when she was 76 years old. She had no reliable family to take care of her, and her only relative that could offer her support did not have room in her home, or the means to give her the assistance she needed.
When Carol and Kim first met, Carol only had the clothes on her back. Kim’s first task was getting Carol an ID, a bank account, and a place to live; but that was just the beginning.
After helping her acquire the necessary documents and accounts needed to function in our society, they focused on finding Carol a home and furnishing it. Because Carol had been faced with an eviction previously, it was challenging to find a place that would give Carol another chance. With the help of the Senior Services program, Carol was able to find an apartment and was given resources to fill it with furniture, kitchenware, clothing, and more. As Kim tells this story, she smiled remembering when Carol was first walking around her apartment and said, “This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”
Last month, we focused on the value of security and that value is just as important in this situation. By giving Carol the security of financial wellness and a safe place to call home, she was then free to focus on rebuilding other areas of her life.
Once Carol was settled into her place and her finances were in order, Kim continued to be a very important person in Carol’s life. Kim even said that when they were in public together, Carol introduced Kim as her best friend. Kim was there for many milestones in Carol’s life, including when it was time for her to move to an assisted living facility. As it was time to make this transition, Kim was by Carol’s side to be her advocate and her friend.
“It’s hard because you have to advocate for people in a way where you are supporting them, but also allowing them to still feel their independence,” Kim said.
While this story was powerful and moving to me, Kim reminded me quickly that this is the reality for many seniors in our community.
“Unfortunately, many seniors no longer have relatives in the area that can assist them, that is why the work we do here at St. Stephen’s is so important- I just really love my job.” Kim said.
The seniors in our community are resilient, resourceful, and independent people. Our Senior Services program gives our seniors the tools, support, and voice they need to remain living their best lives. Because of the passion and dedication shown by staff members like Kim, our seniors have advocates for life.
*Name has been changed.