At Home by High: Building a Support Network for Short North’s Aging Residents
When Katie Beaumont’s mom moved in with her, she thought things would get easier. As an older woman with limited mobility and early signs of dementia, her mom needed near-constant assistance, so a shared residence made sense. But, when falls became more frequent, Beaumont realized she needed someone to fill the gaps between her and her brother’s presence. Her mom was eventually moved into an assisted living facility.
“We just learned how hard it is even when you have a support system,” said Beaumont, Executive Director for At Home by High. The non-profit organization provides a support network for aging adults by sending volunteers to help with day-to-day tasks. “So, for me, because I worked at a non-profit for so long, I just thought about all the people who don’t have that support system.”
A long time participant in Age-Friendly Columbus, Beaumont became deeply aware of the services and voids in service experienced by Columbus’ 50-plus population. The Village to Village Network, a national organization of age-friendly non-profits, has support systems set up in Downtown Columbus, Merion Village, Clintonville, German Village and the Brewery District, but the Short North was missing what Beaumont calls a core resource.
“The thing about the Short North is that everybody is connected in some way,” she said, “but we want to deepen it a little bit and provide that support, rather than necessarily just the ‘I’m waving to you as we walk by’ — deepening these relationships a little bit more.”
Membership with At Home by High is open to anyone residing in the Short North, Weinland Park and Milo-Grogan who are 50 years of age or older. By attending happy hours, coffee meet-ups and educational events, Beaumont hopes people in these neighborhoods can organically develop a network of friends and neighbors that can be of help if and when it’s ever needed.
Neighborly tasks could range from reaching something on a top shelf, moving a piece of furniture, or helping with yard work. Volunteers wouldn’t be asked to do anything required of a nurse or skilled laborer. Beaumont says no special skills are required at all, other than the desire to help a neighbor.
“Social isolation can happen at any age, especially during the winter,” she said. “We just want people to stay connected.”
Memberships come in two forms: social and full membership. Social members can pay $100 annually or $10 monthly to have access to the organization’s learning and community events, wine and cheese tastings, coffee meet-ups, discussion groups, watch parties, and fitness activities. For another $100, a full membership provides transportation assistance, technology assistance, handyman tasks, yard work, note-taking at medical appointments, filing, and referrals to community resources. These member fees are flexible. Members can usually end up paying what they can if only to have a stake in the organization.
At Home by High received $20,000 in initial funding from the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging and will qualify for another $10,000 next year. The organization has a diverse funding stream, though, receiving support from the Village to Village Network itself, the Franklin County Department of Aging and other private and corporate donors.
For more information on At Home by High, or to volunteer or become a member, visit athomebyhigh.org.