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January 3, 2013

Agency forming to grant seniors’ wishes

NEW CASTLE — A little kindness goes a long way.

That’s what Twilight Wish, an organization designed to meet the needs of the elderly, has been proving since 2003, when founder Cass Forkin footed the bill for a group of elderly women she watched struggling to come up with enough money to afford their lunch.

Since that day, the organization has granted more than 1,680 wishes, giving seniors a “thank you” for their contributions to society.

Now, a chapter of Twilight Wish is forming in Lawrence County. Several Lawrence County senior organizations are teaming up to make this possible.

“There’s a lot of elderly in the community that have unmet needs, and this could be a way to meet that need,” said Tom Ford, business development manager at Reliant Senior Care.

Ford was inspired to start this partnership with Twilight Wish when he attended a 2010 Alzheimer’s conference where Forkin was speaking. After hearing her story, he wanted to bring the same efforts to Lawrence County. He and other senior care workers began to organize a new chapter.

Twilight Wish offers three programs for meeting the needs of the elderly. The Wish Granting program is aimed at seniors 68 years or older, meeting a need or lifelong desire expressed by the individual. Wishes can be simple needs, celebrating life, living life to the fullest or veterans’ wishes.

The second program, Dining Unexpected Thank You (DUTY), is similar to Forkin’s original experience. As the Twilight Wish website explains, “If a diner sees an elderly person eating out and would like to treat them to a meal, they hand the DUTY card to a waitress and pay that person’s bill. In turn, the waitress presents that card to the recipient.”

The final program is the Intergenerational Education Program. It matches local schools with nearby nursing homes, allowing students to plan events, raise funds or grant wishes.

Ford said the Lawrence County branch will focus on the wish-granting program first, then branch into the other two programs.

“I think the timeline will be from six months to a year,” he said of the first wish granting.

In making seniors wishes come true, headquarters will donate roughly $500 per wish, and the difference will need to be paid by the local chapter.

The combined senior care organizations of Lawrence County have been promoting with local businesses, Ford said, and have been receiving much support.

The new chapter is also looking for volunteers to join the program. A meeting will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Ben Franklin Early Learning Center.

“We’re looking for anyone in the community who wants to help out,” Ford said. “The most help we’re going to need is volunteers for coordinating (wishes) and fundraising.”

The meeting will feature a video of previously granted wishes and brocheres about the organization will be provided. Refreshments will be served.

Those interested in volunteering should RSVP by Tuesday to Tom Ford  at (724) 991-6704 or tom.ford@reliantsc.com or to Heather Presnar at (724) 658-3729 or linklacounty@gmail.com.

(Email: ncliving@ncnewsonline.com)

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