Personally speaking, I was horrified. This person was known to us, a regular member of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society who came to meetings and joined us on walking tours.
Sure enough, she could be a bit of a loner at times, but in this day and age no one should ever be so alone that they lay silent in their own apartment, unmissed, until their remains are skeletal.
As she had no family, the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society claimed her and paid for a cremation and funeral service, ably assisted by the generosity of Paul Rudolph and Walker Funeral Home.
Afterwards, we struggled with what happened and how best to make sure that this never happened again. We spoke with the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association and came up with some ideas on how residents could volunteer to check in on seniors living alone once a day via telephone.
Over the next few months the initiative sort of faded away, the victim of not enough volunteers and not enough people signing up for the daily check-ins. And so, like some good ideas, it was shelved.
But last week I was contacted and asked about the whereabouts of another senior who hadn’t been heard from in a while. We went to the home and knocked on the door, but there was no response.
We were starting to get a sick feeling in our stomachs and called 911 to come and perform a wellness check.
But then we received some very good news. While waiting for the police, we saw a neighbor who explained that the person was alive and well, but in a rehabilitation center.
The neighbors had noticed that the senior had not brought in their daily newspaper and did their own health check. They found that the senior had fallen and needed assistance and an ambulance was called.
These wonderful neighbors saved this person’s life just by being aware of their surroundings and taking a few moments to care enough about someone to check on their well-being.
I have no doubt that had they not been watching out for their neighbor, I’d be writing a very different column this morning.
And so, we’ve all been given a second chance to take two minutes out of our day to check up on a local senior. Unfortunately, the phrase “two minutes” has become shorthand for “no time at all.” When someone asks for something, people say “sure, give me two minutes.”
And that’s all we are asking from our volunteers. You’ll be paired up with a local senior and pick up the phone once a day, and take “Two Minutes” to say hello.
That daily check-in can be the difference between someone lying on the ground for a few hours or a few days. It can be the difference between life and death.
So, here’s what we need. If you would like to receive a daily check-in call, sign up. We’d prefer to keep this local, so Woodhaven residents only please. Call the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association at (718) 296-3735 and leave your name and number.
And we need volunteers to adopt a senior and make a “Two Minute” call every day. Again, call the WRBA at the number above and tell them you’d like to volunteer.
And not for nothing, but if you’re a senior you can also volunteer to adopt a fellow senior and make that call to someone else, as well as getting one.
You’ll also be able to sign up at any of the upcoming local meetings. The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association meets on Saturday, April 27, at nNoon at Emanuel United Church of Christ at 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard.
Or you can sign up at the next meeting of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society, which meets on Wednesday, April 24, at 1 p.m. at the Avenue Diner at 91-06 Jamaica Avenue.
Two Minutes out of your day could save a life. We know you’ll come through for us.