Idy’s Helping Hands (IHH) is a 501(c)(3) group with the number one goal of enriching the lives of the seniors and adult residents with disabilities. Through compassion, socialization and emotional support, IHH has been successful in doing so.
“Our team is inspired by their love for the elderly, professional experience and a desire to be of service in the community,” said Founder, Executive Director and Treasurer Debbie Daniels. “With aging-in-place as our guiding purpose, we are passionate about our mission.”
Since it was founded in July of 2018, IHH is providing service to about 70 to 80 people here on the mountain — from errands and shopping assistance to resource connections and paperwork assistance, socializing, wellness checks and leisurely activities.
With COVID-19 causing many organizations to change how they operate, IHH is in the same boat. Part of what IHH provides with socialization is in-person interaction.
Unfortunately, during these challenging times things have changed.
“We can’t have any facetime contact, so we drop everything at their door,” Daniels explained. “We are still doing grocery shopping and pharmacy runs. We provide transportation to their doctor’s appointments as well.”
In addition to that, IHH has filled a void for hot meal deliveries. Similar to Meals on Wheels America but run by the community and volunteers. Meals on Wheels America doesn’t service the Idyllwild area, so Daniels realized the need for such a service, especially with the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home order.
“Now what we are doing is we’ve gotten into meal deliveries and care package delivery,” Daniels stated. “We delivered 35 casseroles in a week and multiple care packages.”
The care packages include essentials like bleach, laundry detergent, dish soap, facial tissue, toilet paper, paper towels, mask, gloves and wipes.
Sammy Busby, IHH volunteer, explained how people are willing and ready to help but funding is needed.
“As we transition to meal delivery, thankfully we have the volunteers wanting to deliver and restaurants willing to provide food,” Busby said. “What we need now is funding. Currently, we have a budget for 30 residents one meal a day, for five days. That’s not enough to cover everyone that needs help.”
IHH has about 10 active volunteers and another 10 to 15 that want to help.
Funding would provide the restaurants the money they need and it would provide the seniors in the community a variety of meals.
IHH spoke to Annie Weaver at The Red Kettle and Lori Ferro at Ferro and Idyllwild Brewpub already. Both Weaver and Ferro are both on board to help, they just need the funding to do so.
“The reason I reached out to the restaurants is they could use the business now,” Daniels said. “They have the industrial kitchens, and in the long term, we want a strong foundation and a professional system. This would help build that from the start.”
The seniors and those with disabilities are grateful for the help and for the company.
Busby recalled his interaction with one senior on a recent meal delivery, “When I was delivering in Royal Pines, a senior came up to me and she asked, ‘Are you the ones delivering the food to the seniors?’ She was really excited and it was really exciting for me. It feels good to be able to help them.”
Every meal delivered is a healthy serving for two people. In addition, Amy Andres McMahon has been donating a featured donut each week to be included with each delivery and Pete and Suzon Capparelli donated citrus from the orchard on their property.
“Right now, we can only afford to do the meals once a week due to financial restraints,” Daniels explained. “We provide other services as we can. We check on people once or twice a week to do our other services.”
With volunteers out delivering to more and more seniors, they are also identifying people who will need help in the near future.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the Great Plates Delivered program that will provide three free meals per day for seniors who are at high risk due to COVID-19. The program, as of press time, is still in pending status. High-risk individuals and restaurants with food delivery in place were encouraged to apply online. The Red Kettle applied.
“We are identifying residents that will need help after the pandemic is over also,” Daniels said. “We probably have identified 15 to 20 people that would fit our original mission statement — to age-in-place and not need to leave the Hill.”
During this time, we all need to pull together and help one another. It helps those that need it and it provides those that are helping or volunteering their time a sense of pride by helping someone in need.
Daniels commented, “Helping people is so amazing, isn’t it? I’ve never been so busy, doing so many different things and loving every single minute of it. I love our seniors. This town and the people that are in it are awesome. I’m so grateful. My heart is full.”
If you would like to donate to IHH, visit their website at www.idyshelpinghands.org.