My father passed away during the winter of 2006 at the age of 89. My mother was able to keep him at home for 16 years of his Alzheiner's decline with the unparalleled support of the SAP Area Seniors program offerings. The group might have been called Block Nurse back then. SAP Area Seniors helped my mother find resources, respite care and emotional support that allowed her to maintain my father's and her own dignity. It was only due to my father's increased incidents of falling that forced my mother to move my father to the VA for his final 5 years of life.
In the Spring of 2009 I became my mother's live-in caregiver. Again, SAP Area Seniors supported me as a caregiver with their resources of medical appointment rides, in-home footcare, and information that would have taken me too much time and energy to find on my own.
Now, beginning in the winter of 2022, SAP Area Seniors is providing me with resources to maintain my ability to live independently in the community. The services that SAP Area Seniors provides to me personally, and to my Senior Living apartment building neighbors, allows all of us to access services, information and resources that enrich our lives, sustain our health and support our sense of dignity and autonomy while we travel through the aging process.
As I am now a senior and live with a mild TBI and Long Covid the SAP Area Seniors have provided me with rides to medical appointments, subsidized footcare, monthly blood pressure checks, monthly crafts, and support through both email and phone calls regarding my specific needs. Currently, I am benefiting from a volunteer who visits me twice a week to help me sort through my family's multiple generations of paperwork and photographs. This volunteer is a delightful person. In addition to supporting my organizational goals she is a welcome social presence in my life. I have also benefited from a volunteer who biked over to help me get back into my computer as I had locked myself out. He ended up helping me with a number of other issues on my laptop and cell phone.
In addition to the services I have mentioned, I know others in the community access services, programs and resources offered by SAP Area Seniors that I currently do not access. In the many decades of service to the community I have only heard praise from neighbors for what SAP Area Seniors brings to St. Anthony Park. It is also important to note that knowing that I can contact them about anything is a relief - in that I am not alone in my efforts to be healthy and happy as I age in place.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback about SAP Area Seniors and the immeasurable services they provide to community members. Our SAP community is made up of a wide variety of people with diverse needs. SAP Area Seniors addresses those needs in countless ways and is an integral part of the vitality of our community.
Paying it Forward
Jill and Scott Apple started volunteering for St. Anthony Park Area Seniors because they wanted to give. Now they feel like they’ve received much more than they’ve given.
“Both of us had mothers in other states who received all kinds of help from people in their respective communities,” said Jill. “We felt indebted to those people, and we saw SAPAS as a way to pay it forward.”
But volunteering, they discovered, is a two-way street. The personal relationships they’ve formed have enriched their lives far beyond what they anticipated going in.
One of those relationships was between Scott and Dorothy Hopp. Dorothy and her husband, Ralph, raised a family in St. Anthony Park. Eventually Dorothy moved to 1666 Coffman, and that’s where Scott visited her weekly for two years, reading to her and helping her with a variety of tasks.
Jill has done pharmacy pickups for SAPAS clients, and currently she visits a neighborhood woman to help her with an exercise program.
"That only takes 15 minutes or so,” she said, “but then we just talk. Getting to know another person is one of the great benefits of volunteering.”
Jill and Scott have also met many neighborhood residents by raking their leaves, one of the many services SAPAS provides.
“In both places we’ve lived in St. Anthony Park, we’ve rented,” said Jill. “Without a yard of our own to maintain, it seems natural to help other people with their yards.”
The Apples now rent near College Park, which serves as a starting point for weekly tandem bicycle rides during temperate months. Scott teaches cycling classes at the Midway YMCA, and he and Jill have found that bicycling is a great way to learn the metro area.
Scott sees parallels between bicycling and their volunteer work.
“On a bike, you get a closer look at your surroundings than you do in a car. In volunteering, you get a closer look at people—their yards, their homes, their lives.”
When she’s not volunteering, Jill does fundraising and outreach for the Wesley Foundation, a U of M campus ministry of the United Methodist Church. Scott works for United Health Care, managing diet, exercise, and wellness programs for individuals and groups.
They also keep tabs on their two adult children: K.K., a writer and improv theater performer in Brooklyn, New York; and Max, who works at the Mall of America’s Apple Store.
Scott signs off with one more comparison between bicycling and volunteering: “In both activities, we’re connecting community dots.”