Douglas County’s Good Neighbor Program could become a model for ways communities reach out to their most vulnerable residents.
“Obviously there was a need, but we didn’t know how much of a need until we got into it,” Sheriff Dan Coverley said on Monday. “It’s a good model that other agencies are showing an interest and we could see these types of programs in other counties. Douglas County can’t be the only county that has this need.”
The Sheriff’s Office accepted a $1,000 donation from International Footprinters Association Chapter No. 72 on Monday to support the program, which began four years ago.
“I expected it to just be volunteers being friendly with other seniors, Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bernadette Smith said. “I had no idea I would come across seniors in crisis and exploitation.”
Research shows that checking on seniors is a good way to improve communities’ resilience and help keep them in their homes.
The program is unveiling a new website on June 15 at a luncheon, which is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Volunteer Carol Cartier said there are more than 7,500 people who are 60 or older in Douglas County and a large percentage are living alone.
“We are taking referrals,” she said. “If you see somebody who’s really struggling, we just kind of help them along. We are also looking for more volunteers.”
Volunteers undergo background checks and are fingerprinted.
To learn more or connect a senior to the Good Neighbor Program, call the Douglas County Sheriff's Office Volunteer Programs at (775) 783-6441.