Niagara Gazette —
Ruth Sirianni’s Lewiston home is evidence of a life well-lived. At 93, she still enjoys every inch of it.
On the walls hang colorful paintings, created by Sirianni and her husband, Joseph. The music room holds her instruments from years as a music teacher. While she retired from teaching at 88, just the other day she strummed a ukelele for family and friends on the patio that overlooks her lovingly tended back yard.
Sirianni has some trouble getting around since her hip replacement, but is still very independent. It was very important to her two daughters that she stay in her home. Daughter Joyce Sirianni, a busy anthropology professor and church minister, had given her word to her mom and her sister, Anita.
“Years ago I made a commitment to both my mom and my sister, that mom would stay in her own home,” she said.
It was a happy coincidence their next door neighbor was Sue McBee, the program manager of HART Interfaith.
“We’re a referral organization. We match up people,” said McBee about HART’s free services.
McBee said HART has a database of 250 caregivers who can be employed for a wide variety of services. In Sirianni’s case, it started out that her caregiver, Lisa Schultz, was just coming a couple hours a week to help Ruth with small things like shopping and doctors appointments. Now, Schultz is coming full time and acts as companion and assistant to Ruth. Another caregiver stops by to help her for a short time each evening.
The matchup is free because HART’s entire budget comes from fundraising, according to HART boardmember Patty Berggren. The services provided are as varied as the clients’ needs, from registered nurses to care aides, home helpers, house cleaners and even lawn maintenance workers, all of whom have been prescreened through interviews, training verifications and background checks.
Berggren’s own mother was assisted by HART’s service, which is why Berggren joined the volunteer board.
“It was a godsend,” she said of HART’s help to find a caregiver for her mom. “After my father passed away, she was able to remain in our home for years.
“When you look at it, it’s the perfect, proper way that seniors should be treated,” Berggren added.
What distinguishes HART from other home health care agencies is that the same caregiver stays with the client as long as care is needed. That provides a “family-like bond” that is unlike many other similar services, Berggren said.
Schultz has become a family friend as well as Ruth Sirianni’s caregiver.
“It’s nice to be able to do this work so people can stay in their own homes,” Schultz said. “There’s no place like home.”
And on the other side, Ruth Sirianni said she appreciates Schultz’s assistance.
“It’s wonderful,” she said, smiling. “When you can’t do things for yourself, you have to accept assistance.”
While HART has no religious affiliation, it began in First Presbyterian Church in Lewiston to assist older people with various tasks around the house. The church still provides free office space to the group. All the matchup services provided are free, although each client is responsible to and HART depends on fundraising efforts to fund its operation.
HART Interfaith is holding a fundraiser June 4 at the Niagara Falls Country Club. Tickets are $40 per person and RSVPs are requested by Tuesday. For more information, call HART at 754-8313.
IF YOU GO
• WHAT: A fundraiser for HART Interfaith, a non-profit that provides home assistance referral throughout the Niagara Region
• WHEN: 5:30 p.m. June 4, with RSVP requested by Tuesday
• WHERE: Niagara Falls Country Club, Lewiston
• FOR MORE INFORMATION: There will be raffles and drawings. Tickets are $40 per person or $320 for a table of eight. Call HART at 754-8313 or visit www.hartinterfaith.org