Volunteer Mavens: Store to Door

Even before she became a senior, Store to Door Executive Director Helen Bernstein loved seniors.

In 1979, Helen taught the first fitness classes in Manhattan designed specifically for seniors. She later went to the 92nd Street Y as director of the senior adult program. She chaired the Eastside Council on the Aging, a group focused on creating and maintaining senior services in the community.

When Helen came to Portland to be near her family in 1996, she put all those skills to work here – first as a volunteer and later as a board member at Cedar Sinai Park and then as executive director of Store to Door. She is an active participant in a growing network of senior service providers.

Manned by a few staff and a small army of volunteers, Store to Door (S2D) takes individual grocery orders over the phone every Tuesday, shops on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the Stadium Fred Meyer, and delivers the groceries and goods later each day.

First-time volunteer shoppers should call ahead to schedule a training, after which they can shop all morning every week or just drop in for an hour or so now and then. Shoppers run the gamut from teens and parents with toddlers to empty nesters and seniors.

Jean Pierce, who is 86, shops a couple of hours every week, taking care of people much younger than she is who just can’t get out. “I do it because it makes me feel good to volunteer. And I get to walk. It’s my exercise!”

Delivery volunteers must make a weekly commitment and have a background check, but it can be very satisfying. They often go into the home, visit a bit and help put away the groceries. For some S2D clients, this visit is their only social interaction all week. S2D delivery people are also trained to be alert for signs the resident may need additional help. Helen can then call someone in her network of senior service providers.

David Fuks, CEO of CSP, believes in the value of S2D. “We are working to provide services for our elders who want to stay home as long as possible. The inability to get groceries and other supplies can be the deal breaker for some. Store to Door gets the job done.”

“A lot of people who can’t get out are pretty much invisible to the rest of us and behind a lot of doors are people who are in need of services, attention, social interaction … life,” says Helen.
Store to Door is a non-profit that provides low-cost, personalized grocery shopping and delivery for Portland seniors and people with disabilities who can’t shop for themselves. To volunteer: Call Cindi Price at 503-200-3336 or visit www.StoreToDoorOfOregon.org.

Liz Rabiner Lippoff is a medical marketing consultant, freelance writer, Cedar Sinai Park board member and a fan of Store to Door. www.LizInk.biz.


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