39 Helping the Frail Elderly – Boca Raton ONGOING SENIOR ASSISTANCE PROGRAM This woman 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, detergent to wash her clothes or a lotion to soothe her eczema. She couldn’t afford them all. She is one of 270 seniors (up almost 5%) 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. 259 seniors have income between $614 and $1,348 a month; and 11 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 40 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 259 of these seniors, in addition to the food, there is, 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. The 11 with the lowest income 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.