It’s no exaggeration when Geraldine says the volunteers at SAGE Eldercare “saved my life.”
She fell getting out of bed and broke her hip the night before she was to receive groceries from the grocery shopping and errand service of SAGE. When volunteer Judy Leane arrived with groceries that morning, she knew something was amiss when Geraldine didn’t greet her at the door of her Berkeley Heights home. She called SAGE Volunteer Coordinator Amy Stuart who went by to check for herself and found the house still locked and dark. She felt in her gut something must be wrong as it wasn’t like Geraldine to miss her weekly visit and groceries. Stuart called family members and then the police, who broke down the door and found Geraldine, who had been on the floor all night. She faced a pin in her leg in addition to the broken hip, a two-week stay in the hospital, and a month of rehabilitation before she returned home and resumed the SAGE services.
“And here I am, thanks to the people of SAGE who were insistent that I was home,” Geraldine said. “The grocery shopping service saved my life, literally.”
Another SAGE volunteer, Judy Chicka, of Summit, was holding Geraldine’s hand when she woke up from her surgery, before Geraldine’s family could arrive, and helped her with getting to follow-up doctor appointments. Chicka had met Geraldine as a Meals with Friends volunteer, a friendly visitor program that SAGE offers to minimize social isolation. The two have lunch and chats once a week and talk on the phone. “We have a special friendship. If we had met some other way, we would become friends. Geraldine is a very interesting person with a wonderful, creative mind,” Chicka said.
Now, Geraldine is equipped with a medical alert monitoring system (which SAGE can also help arrange) and she happily greeted Leane with a smile on a recent visit. Her smile got bigger when she saw the bags of food, especially the eclairs she’d ordered and the banana that Leane had been extra careful to pick out “just the right one.”
“When you’re shopping for someone else, you really feel like you have to do the best job. If she’s only getting one banana, I’m going to make sure it is a really good one. When you’re shopping for yourself, you might not realize how many choices there can be,” Leane, a Chatham resident, said.
The grocery shopping service offered by SAGE helps homebound seniors get personalized shopping for a small fee. Volunteers take the senior’s grocery list each week, pick up the items in the Shop-Rite of Millburn (on Thursdays) or Stirling (Wednesdays), and then deliver the groceries to their kitchen, while providing a watchful eye and a friendly visit. The grocery shopping and errand service reaches older adults living in areas surrounding Summit, where SAGE is based.
“For us, it’s good to get out and see different people and feel helpful,” said Chris Finazzo, Leane’s neighbor and her shopping helper. And for Chicka, who wasn’t able to be around when her parents were older and relied on others to keep them company, volunteering for SAGE is her way of “paying it forward.”
For Geraldine and other grocery shopping service recipients, it’s a chance for fresh groceries when they otherwise couldn’t get out of the house, and a friendly visitor. She responds to Leane’s farewell of, “It’s good to see you; have a great day” with her own enthusiastic, “It is ALWAYS good to see SAGE!”
For more information about volunteering or receiving the grocery shopping and errand services offered at SAGE, please call: 908.273.5554.
About SAGE Eldercare
Since 1954, SAGE Eldercare has been helping make the communities it serves amazing places to age. The non-profit organization provides a wide array of information, support, and services designed to help individuals lead the most independent and active lives possible. From helping with errands and delivering Meals on Wheels, to exercise classes, community programs, Medicare counseling, care planning, an adult day health care program, and home health care, as well as the SAGE Resale Shop and Furniture Restoration Workshop, SAGE’s expertise helps older adults remain independent in their own homes. SAGE is committed to being the leading provider of programs and services to meet the changing needs of older adults, their families, and caregivers in Union, Essex, Morris, and Somerset Counties. For more information, please call 908.273.5550 or visit www.sageeldercare.org.
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Photos: 1-Chatham residents Chris Finazzo and neighbor Judy Leane stand with Berkeley Heights resident Geraldine after delivering her weekly groceries, a service offered by non-profit SAGE Eldercare, that was a lifesaver for Geraldine. For more information about volunteering or receiving the grocery shopping and errand services offered at SAGE, please call: 908.273.5554
2-Chatham residents Judy Leane and neighbor Chris Finazzo inspect corn at the Shop-Rite of Stirling, making sure to get the best for Geraldine, who uses the non-profit SAGE Eldercare for grocery shopping and errands. For more information about volunteering or receiving the grocery shopping and errand services offered at SAGE, please call: 908.273.5554.
3- Geraldine, of Berkeley Heights, and volunteer Judy Chicka, of Summit, enjoy a Lunch, Learn & Listen program at SAGE Eldercare. Judy and Geraldine have formed a special friendship through SAGE. For more information about volunteering at SAGE, please call: 908.273.5554.