With the help of generous donors like you, the Senior Fund has assisted El Paso’s elderly residents for almost 30 years. This fund is a partnership between our United Way and the Rio Grande Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
Two elderly sisters, Maria and Rosa, faced numerous challenges. The sisters reside in the heart of El Paso, in the historic Sunset Heights neighborhood. As many El Pasoans know, some of these older homes are situated in such a way that they are not easily accessible. This was the case for Maria and Rosa’s home.
A steep staircase was the only means of accessing their house, posing a substantial obstacle for the elderly sisters. Maria, who is wheelchair-bound, was battling cancer and had lost her left eye due to chemotherapy. Rosa, Maria’s sister, also had limited mobility and was facing mental health challenges. Since the front stairs were not an option for the sisters, a homemade ramp was built in the backyard, propped up on cinder blocks.
Maria’s son was doing the best he could to help his mother and aunt. However, since he worked out of town, caring for his wheelchair-bound mother became challenging. He was struggling to get Maria in and out of the house for her much-needed doctor's appointments. Looking for assistance, he reached out to the AAA.
AAA Client Services Manager, Sandra Gonzalez, went to work to help the sisters even though she could not meet with them in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gonzalez had to rely on photos of the homemade ramp in the backyard and paramedics struggling to move Maria from the house on a gurney after a fall. While the AAA stepped in to help, they couldn't cover the complete cost of the project. This is where the Senior Fund and its compassionate donors played a pivotal role. Donations from the Senior Fund filled the financial gap, making it possible to undertake the $6,500 project.
"We were sort of desperate to help them, so part of the funds came from (AAA) funds, which are through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services," Gonzalez said. "But because we have a cap, whatever we can't cover, the Senior Fund can cover."
The Senior Fund helps senior citizens pay for necessities that are not fully covered by other social services. Thanks to the transformative power of generous contributions the construction of a sturdy concrete ramp in the backyard became a reality, allowing the sisters to navigate in and out of their home without the daunting task of the steep front stairs.
Rosa expressed their gratitude, stating, "We're very happy with our ramp." Maria added, "Otherwise, how do we get out of here?"