After undergoing two knee replacements, Jean Harvey, 84, was happy to know that modifications being made in her apartment’s bathroom would help make life easier—and safer.
Harvey, who has lived in the Union Aid Society apartments in Sewickley for 15 years, wasn't the only resident excited for the new updates.
Helen Rondinelli, 81, the longest resident after 19 years, agreed the safety modifications were much appreciated.
“We needed it,” Rondinelli said, “and it will be wonderful.”
Three Sewickley-based non-profits—Valley Care Association, the Union Aid Society and the Secoro Foundation—joined forces Thursday for a one-day home improvement blitz at the 22 apartments within the Union Aid buildings, 511 Centennial Ave. Union Aid provides affordable apartments for low-income older adults who have ties to Quaker Valley School District communities.
Thursday's objective was to help keep those older residents safe in their homes by making shower and toilet modifications. The home installations included 44 shower grab bars and six elevated toilets.
Union Aid Society secured a grant for the work through the Secoro Foundation, a division of Sewickley Savings Bank. Valley Care’s Home Safe Home program then coordinated the installation with its four independent contractors.
John Seitz, HSH program coordinator, said the grab bars that had been in the apartments weren't placed in optimal locations for safety. Likewise, the new ADA-approved commodes will make it easier for residents to get on and off.
“It’s been a wonderful example of neighbors helping neighbors,” Seitz said, pointing out that the four contractors—three from Beaver County and one from Carnegie—were also working together.
Contractors spent the morning and part of the afternoon installing the new features.
Sherri Leifman, Union Aid Society executive director, appeared excited to see the work going forward. She said safety improvements couldn’t be happening at a better time, pointing out that falls are the leading cause of injury and death in older adults, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.
“This project is going to help our residents so much,” she said.
Keith Henderson, Sewickley Savings Bank senior vice president and the Secoro Foundation treasurer, said need-based grants are awarded to projects that provide safer, more secure housing environments for seniors.
“The cost to make these improvements is minor compared to the cost—both in dollars and in quality of life—of having an older adult fall in their home,” Henderson said.
The Secoro Foundation—a division of Sewickley Savings Bank—stands for Sewickley, Coraopolis and Robinson, all locations of the bank’s offices.
Secoro has worked with Valley Care for many years, but Henderson said it was the first time they’ve ever done a renovation through Union Aid Society.
Apartment residents were treated to lunch to celebrate the work and meet the contractors, Union Aid board members and staff from the three partnering organizations.
Residents expressed their gratitude.
“They’re very good to us here and very thoughtful,” Harvey said. “It’s a wonderful place to live.”
About the non-profit agencies:
Valley Care Association
Valley Care Association has been serving older adults, adults with disabilities, and their families since 1978. Its mission is to help people age safely in place in their own homes. The organization’s Home Safe Home program provides home safety modifications for older adults and adults with disabilities. Valley Care also provides adult day services at its centers in Ambridge and Moon Township. For more information call 412-749-5257 or visit www.valleycareassociation.org.
Union Aid Society
Since 1898, the Union Aid Society has been the safety net for the 11 municipalities of the Quaker Valley School District. Services provided by the Union Aid Society include emergency funding for rent, medical bills, food and utilities.In addition, the organization owns and subsidizes the apartments for low income seniors and coordinates several annual community programs – Thanksgiving Food Program, Children’s Holiday Gift Program, Scholarships and Back-to-School clothing and supplies. For more information call 412-741-9240 or visit www.unionaidsociety.org.
The Secoro Foundation
The Secoro Foundation provides grants for community development primarily in housing but also for health and humanitarian endeavors. Founded in 2004, the Secoro Foundation has provided funds for the rehabilitation of homes surrounding the Sewickley Savings Bank community in order to provide low income and elderly residents a safer, more secure, and healthier environment in which to live. Sewickley Savings Bank employees have also given their time as volunteers to assist local homeowners in completing some of these necessary home repairs. For more information call 412-741-5000 or visit www.sewickleysavingsbank.com.