The Recorder – With $25K grant, LifePath helps veterans age in place

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Published: 5/25/2023 6:47:49 PM

Modified: 5/25/2023 6:47:33 PM

GREENFIELD — The homes of at least 10 local veterans will be repaired or modified by the end of 2023, thanks to a $25,000 grant from Meals on Wheels America with support from The Home Depot Foundation.

LifePath, a nonprofit that provides programs and services to support the independent living of elders and people with disabilities across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region, learned in February it would receive the money as part of $2.53 million pledged to support expansion of Helping Homebound Heroes, a program that provides home repairs and modifications for aging veterans. LifePath serves as the local facilitator for Meals on Wheels.

“The objective is to help … people whose desire or need is to stay in their home,” explained Mark Devlin, LifePath’s home safety program director and certified aging-in-place specialist.

He said LifePath is committed to repairing or modifying a minimum of 10 homes over 10 months, starting in March.

“We hope to do more than 10 homes,” Devlin noted.

He mentioned volunteers repaired or modified a Shelburne home in March and a Deerfield home last month, and three more projects are already in the planning stages. The work typically entails improving a home’s safety by installing shower chairs, safety railings and grab bars, and equipping homes with fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.

Volunteers Jed Proujansky and Mike Fair, neither of whom are veterans, said LifePath recruited them to assist with the work and they agreed as a way to help those who served their country.

“I guess that’s what I think people have to do — give back. It’s something I can do and like to do,” Proujansky said. “I think it’s good to give back to your community, and it’s skills that I have and was able to take advantage of to help others. So, why not?”

Fair said he knew LifePath’s former director and they had talked casually about helping to fix or modify people’s homes. He said he jumped at the chance to sign up when the opportunity presented itself.

“I have those skills and I had the time, so I felt it was a good thing to do,” he said

Fair said part of his inspiration was seeing his veteran father need help as he aged.

Meals on Wheels America has partnered with The Home Depot Foundation since 2015, contributing at least $16 million for home repair projects.

“With more than 9 million veteran homeowners over the age of 55, there is a growing need for critical home repairs and modifications, which have proven positive effects on health and quality of life,” Ellie Hollander, president and CEO, Meals on Wheels America, said in a statement. “Thanks to The Home Depot Foundation’s increased support, more Meals on Wheels programs are able to help military veterans live more safely and independently in the comfort of their homes. We are so grateful for the foundation’s long-standing commitment.”

Meals on Wheels America is entering its ninth year of the Helping Homebound Heroes program and has served at least 2,000 veterans.

“We’re honored to work alongside Meals on Wheels America in service to U.S. military veterans,” Shannon Gerber, executive director of The Home Depot Foundation, said in a statement. “Restoring independence for our nation’s heroes is at the center of The Home Depot Foundation’s mission, and we’re proud to help ensure our senior veterans can successfully and comfortably live at home through home modifications.”

Information about how to volunteer with LifePath is available at bit.ly/3BTNhr1.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.

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