The onset of winter -- coupled with the deep-freeze economy -- brought a record number of requests this year for the Journey’s Way Center’s annual free weatherization service.
In response, the Roxborough-based services for older adults mobilized 62 community volunteers, who went to 34 homes last Saturday , December 6 to install window-plastic kits and other winterization supplies and to rake leaves to prevent slipping hazards. An additional seven homes will be serviced by volunteers in coming days.
This was Journey’s Way’s fourth annual winterization workday. The project has grown steadily, from 12 homes the first year to 26 last year and 41 this year.
The workday is part of the Neighbor to Neighbor program, an ongoing effort by Journey’s Way to help older residents remain safe and secure in their homes. Collaborating in the workday was United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, whose funding allowed for the weatherization materials to be provided free of charge.
“It’s so nice to have this help,” one East Falls resident said as she stood in the chill watching two volunteers rake her front patio. “It’s harder and harder for me to do these things, and if I tried I’d fall on my nose. I really want to stay in my home, and this really helps.”
The volunteers gathered at the Journey’s Way Center for training before heading out in small teams to homes scattered around Roxborough, Manayunk, East Falls and Allegheny West. The work requests had already been assessed by Journey’s Way staff, who also had readied the supplies and routes to speed the way for each team.
By day’s end, the high-energy volunteers managed to put up more than 100 window kits and install weather-stripping, caulk, door-bottom sweeps, and radiator reflector boards.
The bulk of the volunteers came from area campuses – nine from Temple University, six from Drexel Medical School, seven from Villanova and two dozen from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“They’re excellent,” one Roxborough resident as a volunteer team tackled the drafts in her home. “They just sealed the basement door, which was our biggest problem. My husband and I have shoulder problems, so we couldn’t do this now.”
Afterwards, the volunteers returned the appreciation.
“People were really gracious,” said Chase Parsons, a PCOM medical student who visited two homes in Andorra. “It was nice that we weren’t just helping out, but that we got to talk to them about their lives,” added Christine Guenther, another PCOM student.
Heather Wertz, director of civic engagement for United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, said of Journey’s Way “has been our strongest partner in mobilizing volunteers to participate in winter weatherization. We feel their model should be replicated in other communities.”
Wertz joined the volunteers in the field last Saturday, and said the experience was an eye-opener for some students on her team.
“This got them out into the community first-hand, and gave them a tangible connection to people’s needs,” she said. “I’m not sure who it helped more, the residents or the students.”
Journey’s Way: Resources & Programs for People 55+ is a program of Intercommunity Action, Inc. The agency offers special thanks to Roxborough Baptist Church, whose youth group provided a supplemental day of raking Nov. 22.
For information about Journey’s Way programs, call 215-487-1750.