I have always had a soft spot for the elderly. Not only was I taught to respect my elders, but my grandparents helped raise me. I grew up on their hobby farm east of River Falls and their guidance and the time I spent with them forever shaped me. Perhaps that is why any story to do with elder care really hits home to me.

My grandpa, Harlan Lundgren, was a feisty man and made it quite clear that he would never be going to a nursing home. The few (thankfully) times he was in the hospital over the years were luckily short and sweet, as he was always itching to get back home.

My grandfather was able to remain in his home right up until he passed away at the age of 93. He was actually stubbornly digging out old fence posts the week he died. My grandmother still remains in her home and she will turn 90 this year. My mother lives with her, and our family is grateful for that. It allows my grandma to stay in the home she loves and maintain her independence. I only wish that more seniors had that option. Not only does it save money in the long run, but there is nothing like home sweet home and being able to take care of oneself.

Don’t get me wrong: the senior care facilities we have in our area are top notch. I have always been impressed with the quality of the nursing homes in the area, and I know some of my relatives who have lived in them were very happy in their golden years. We are grateful for the care they received at the Ellsworth Care Center, the Plum City Care Center and Heritage of Elmwood. But assisted living/nursing home life is not for everyone.

When I first heard about Spring Valley Seniors Staying Put, Inc., my interest was piqued. A group of people in Spring Valley have formed a group dedicated to helping seniors remain in their homes by offering help with simple tasks around the house, rides to medical appointments, social interaction with younger people, regular and purposed phone calls, deliveries such as library books or shopping, minor household tasks, running errands, gardening and referrals to existing care providers.

The group’s goal is to be fully operational by Sept. 20 when they have a kickoff event set for Spring Valley Dam Days. Members are currently going through volunteer training.

The group is aware that similar services are provided by the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), but is hoping to fill a gap in the area, especially if funding is cut to the ADRC as proposed in Gov. Walker’s 2015-2017 budget.

SVSSP is currently looking for volunteers to help with things like errand-running, transportation, or even companionship visits. They are also looking for potential clients to help, so if you have someone in mind who could benefit from these services, consider SVSSP as an option.

I know that spending time helping my grandparents with chores and visiting with them are some of my favorite memories. The things I learned from them are priceless, and the memories they shared are forever stored in my mind. Spending time with our elders is rewarding, not only for them, but for us too.

Please consider donating your time to the SVSSP to help senior citizens remain in their homes. Something that seems like no big deal to you, like mowing the lawn, could be an extremely big deal to them. Just running to the store to get a few items on a list for someone could mean the world to him or her and be a huge relief.

If you’re running short on time, as many of us are, consider making a monetary donation to the SVSSP. All donations will be tax-deductible.

To be added to the list of volunteers, to make a donation or to inquire about services, contact Vicki Aarsheim at vicki.aarsheim@me.com or 715-273-0223; Margy Balwierz at 715-778-4473; or Kathy Nyeggen at 715-760-1057 or Kathynyeggen@baldwin-telecom.net.