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Not All Heroes Wear Capes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31   
Wednesday, 26 June 2024 10:18

disability-oldSenator Smith details the heroic efforts of everyday volunteers who make the work of county Aging, Disability and Resource Centers (ADRC) possible.

EAU CLAIRE - “Not all heroes wear capes” is an expression you hear frequently to describe everyday folks doing extraordinary things without asking for credit or even boasting about their good deeds. That could easily fit the description of Lyle Orsch.

Lyle is a young man I became aware of last week. In January, he was out delivering Meals-On-Wheels as he did regularly during his high school lunch hour for the Trempealeau County ADRC. He arrived at the home of a woman who had fallen 12-hours earlier and broken her hip. He stayed with her after calling 911 until help arrived. He stayed calm and handled the situation with ease while reassuring her everything would be okay. This simple act of service saved her life. He’s a hero in my book.

elderlyLast week I had the pleasure of sitting down with several directors of county Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) from our area for a long conversation that spanned a wide range of topics. We discussed the delicate balance of providing care for our ever-growing population of elders in need of assistance. I learned there’s a serious shortage of volunteers who are needed to do everything such as delivering meals, driving folks to medical appointments, house cleaning, providing respite for care-givers and even minor repairs in the home most of us take for granted.

It’s an understatement to say my eyes are wide-open on the issue of ensuring that much more is done in the coming legislative session to support the role that these vital organizations play in our communities.

What is clear to me is that the work being done by ADRC’s in every county of the state is essential to supporting aging adults and others in their homes. For several years my wife has been providing care for her parents and we became more aware of the services and support provided by the ADRC. We also learned what it means to be caregivers and to never be too proud to ask for help. That’s directed at both adults needing services and their caregivers.

The ADRC mission is to provide older adults and people with physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities with the resources needed to live with dignity and security. This helps individuals achieve maximum independence and ensure quality of life.

If you have questions about aging or living with a disability, your local ADRC can help. ADRC’s provide information on a variety of programs and services. That includes long-term care options, and they also help people apply for programs and benefits, including publicly funded long-term care.

Here are some of the resources ADRC’s can offer:

While it is important to promote and thank the staff of these fine organizations, we must also keep in mind they are being asked to do a lot with very little money. Annual budgets for ADRC’s are simply not keeping up with the increased costs associated with operating these services. Keep in mind the aging population is only going to grow.

jeff-smithThe ‘silver tsunami’ is here. More financial support is needed by the state and as your state senator, I will be the first to advocate for more money during the next budget, which starts in earnest this coming January.

In addition to more state funds, volunteers are critically needed to ensure the smooth operation of these services in every county. As I heard several times during our conversation, this kind of community service is incredibly meaningful and the need is great.

The regular contact volunteers like Lyle offer for these folks is in some cases the only regular contact they receive. How about you? Do you have a couple hours you could help drive someone to an appointment or deliver some meals? Give your county ADRC a call today to learn more about how you can help.

Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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