35 Helping the Frail Elderly – Boca Raton ONGOING SENIOR ASSISTANCE PROGRAM The woman to the right was not sorting the spare change in her purse. She was counting every penny to determine which of the basic necessities of life she can buy, and which ones she would have to live without, that month. She had to decide between soap and detergent to wash her clothes or a lotion to soothe her eczema. She couldn’t afford them all. She is one of 259 seniors who now receive a gift card from HOT to help pay for the basic necessities of life. She is part of a group of seniors who live in Palm Beach County who have almost no disposable income, are over 65, and have outlived whatever money they had. 250 seniors have income between $614 and $1,348 a month; and 9 have income between $307 and $613 a month. How do they live? They either live in HUD Section 8 housing or in condos bought as many as 45 years ago that have very low maintenance. Many of these seniors have no income other than Social Security and because many of them did not have large incomes in their, or their spouses’ earning years, they receive only a fraction of what others receive. How do they eat? Many get food stamps and all are clients of Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) and receive semi-monthly food packages. Now, for 250 of these seniors, in addition to the food, there are, once a quarter, $60 ($240 a year) of gift cards from either Target or Wal-Mart (the store is determined by its proximity to the client’s home) in the food package and 9 get $40 of gift cards every month ($480 a year). What do they use the cards for? Millie hadn’t purchased a stitch of new clothing for years. The month she started receiving her Walmart cards she was able to buy shampoo, dish soap and detergent and had a little left over to buy a new blouse. She chose one with a pattern of roses. She said it reminded her of when she was a little girl and her mother would plant flowers in window boxes. She said the flowers brought sunshine into the house and her new blouse gave her a bit of sunshine. Betty suffers from mild infections on her feet. Living on a limited social security she never had enough money to buy Epsom salt to soak her feet daily. Since Betty started receiving her Walgreens card, 8 months ago, she has not had any flare-ups. Her walking and quality of life have dramatically improved. Mrs. L called to tell us how excited she was that the gift card given to her allows her to buy shampoo so she can wash her hair several times per week- in the past she didn’t have money to buy enough shampoo and when she ran out she used a bar of soap.