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Readers respond to help senior, 89, with groceries

Generous

Royal Gazette readers have come to the aid of an 89-year-old man who was unable to afford anything but the most basic of groceries.

One woman, Rachael Ashford, has offered to forgo some of her nights on the town and, with the money she saves, take ‘Mr A’ on a regular shopping trip.

Ms Ashford said she was appalled to read in this newspaper’s The Cost of Living series on Monday that the senior can spend just $50 to $70 for personal groceries every week.

Another woman took Mr A a bag of food on Monday evening, while the Harrington Sound Gospel Chapel has also offered to fund his grocery shopping.

Reacting yesterday, Age Concern executive director Claudette Fleming said the charity is considering an Adopt a Senior programme as it looks for new ways of coping with increasing numbers of seniors in desperate need.

The Royal Gazette reported on Monday how Mr A, who asked not to be identified, lives alone in a tiny apartment, spending virtually all his income on bills.

With $50 or $70 left for food and household essentials every week, he is sometimes required to make $4 meals last two days while his most luxurious possession is a small television set showing local channels.

Ms Ashford, an underwriter, said in an e-mail to this newspaper: “I am really saddened by the state that some are living in Bermuda. Something you did not mention is how we might help Mr A and others like him?

“I know my friends and I would forgo some of our nights on the town to help someone in need and make a difference in their lives.

“Please let me know how I can help. It is a disgrace that an 89-year-old can be considering a whole-wheat roll a luxury.”

Under advice from Ms Fleming, Ms Ashford agreed to offer practical help such as driving Mr A to the store.

The woman who delivered him food on Monday evening, who asked not to be named, said she wanted to ensure leftovers from a lunch meeting at work did not go to waste while people are suffering.

She took him a host of items including sandwiches, a sticky bun and a large jar of vegetable and beef soup.

“I basically packed up all that I could carry and had room for and took it round on my bike,” she said.

Meanwhile Linda Russell of the Harrington Sound Gospel Chapel said: “When I saw this elderly person was in need, I knew we had to help.

“We have a fund to help those in need and our main goal is to make sure people can get groceries.”

Mr A, who had not made any requests for help through his interview in Monday’s paper, declined to comment at length, but said he wanted to pass on his thanks to those who made donations.

Ms Fleming said her own experiences have highlighted how real the need has become in Bermuda.

“Recently, my husband and I had the very unusual experience of having a couple knock on our door in the middle of the night for food,” she said.

“At work, we were fortunate enough to get an Easter donation of grocery boxes from the American Consulate. An older lady dropped by our office late in the afternoon to apply for the Belco hardship fund; when she saw the boxes she quietly asked if she could have one.

“Unfortunately, they were all assigned at the time, so we had to find another source of help for her.

“Over the Christmas holiday, the staff at Butterfield and Vallis donated grocery boxes and several groups and individuals came by to make the home to home deliveries

“On one occasion there was a well-known and respected older Bermudian who took us aside and told us their story and asked if we could help with providing food.

“I could see it took a lot of courage for this senior to ask for help but we are glad they thought enough of us to ask.

“Without these encounters we would not know the extent of the community’s affliction. I provide these anecdotal stories because these are examples that I have rarely seen in my decade-long history of being at Age Concern.

“I have

The Royal Gazette and many of its reporters to thank for being a resource to us to make such stories known to the public, because when the word gets out Bermuda responds most graciously and we are deeply grateful.”

She called on people who are able to feed their families not to assume everyone else is so fortunate.

“Make the extra effort to cross the street and knock on the doors of the people in your community and/or communities that may be unfamiliar to you,” she said.

“Contrary to popular belief, most people aren’t lazy and looking for hand outs. Age Concern has come across several young men in particular, that are looking for honest work.

“The second thing we can do, if we aren’t doing it already, is to adjust our attitudes and adapt ‘but for the grace of God go I’ as our community mantra.

“These days, job layoffs are no respecter of persons. It could be you today and me tomorrow. And when it comes to getting older, it’s going to be all of us. Growing older is something we all have in common.”

She said a number of people had called for Age Concern to look at an Adopt a Senior programme.

“We are in the middle of our strategic planning for the years 2013 to 2017,” she said.

“We will use this process to determine whether our current mission is relevant or whether we have to implement new or improved ways of doing things.

“We are encouraged by the public’s trust in us to meet the needs of seniors and will continue to accept input on how we might best undertake our work.”

lHave you got a story to tell about the economic crisis? E-mail tsmith@royalgazette.bm

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Published April 18, 2012 at 9:57 am (Updated April 18, 2012 at 9:57 am)

Readers respond to help senior, 89, with groceries

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