Locals to launch project for seniors

Some of the Locals Helping Locals members, from leftare Johanna Kotze, Betsy Hardouin, Linda Rafferty, Francie Kotze and Rhonda Ellis.

Seniors will be getting a helping hand thanks to the Adopt-A-Grandparent project that a Bothasig-based charity will launch this weekend.

For the past five years, Locals Helping Locals has been going in to bat for elderly folk in Bothasig, Edgemead, Richwood and surrounds. The seniors, or “seenagers”, as the organisation calls them, get home-cooked meals, donations of bare necessities, such as toiletries, and are taken on outings.

Founder Johanna Kotze started Locals Helping Locals after helping an elderly woman who could not afford groceries. Today, it has just under 10 members and looks after 49 pensioners. The organisation is not a registered non-profit, but the Bothasig police have vouched for the work it does.

“I saw there was a lot of help for struggling families and people with addictions, but no one was helping seniors. There are truly heartbreaking cases out there,” said Ms Kotze.

She has turned her home into the organisation’s “headquarters”, using her kitchen to prepare all the food. Donations are stored in her garage and garden shed.

Every pensioner is first assessed before being taken under the organisation’s wing. This includes a house visit.

Those added to the list of beneficiaries receive a cooked meal on Thursdays and a monthly hamper with food and toiletries to get them through the last week before their social grants are paid.

Ms Kotze said there were “seenagers” without families who were desperate for company.

“Many of them are very lonely and appreciate a phone call or being taken out for some coffee.”

The Adopt-A-Grandparent project — to be launched at the Holistic Fayre in Bothasig this Saturday — takes the the organisation’s efforts a step further by drawing in wider community involvement, with members of the public being able to care for a specific “seenager”.

Even though the project refers to adopting a “grandparent”, the senior doesn’t need to have been a parent to qualify for assistance.

“There will be a database with a short description and information about the seniors, and people can pick a name,” said Ms Kotze.

The database won’t include the senior’s phone number and address.

The volunteer’s responsibilities will include visiting their senior at least once a month, calling them regularly and taking them out for a ride.

“They don’t have to dig deep into their pockets. These seniors need love and attention too,” she said.

The Holistic Fayre will be at the Bothasig community hall, on the corner of Link and Briza roads.

Visit the Locals Helping Locals Facebook page, email localshel
pinglocals111@gmail.com or call 021 558 5041 for more information.