Caring for others Featured

7:00pm EDT November 24, 2006

Therese Kovatch, president of Chesterland-based Home Instead Senior Care, made a commitment that her business would give back to the community by putting it in her company’s mission statement.

The company, which provides nonmedical home care for seniors, created the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program in 2004 to provide holiday gifts and companionship to lonely and indigent seniors in Lake and Geauga counties. This year, the volunteer program is expanding to Portage County.

“The program, because of its magnitude, requires yearlong planning and has become an ongoing community service program, with detail organization and support culminating in the final project phase,” Kovatch says.

Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, KeyBank and other local merchants serve as partners with Home Instead Senior Care by placing holiday trees in their stores with a request for donations. Then the company works with community nonprofits — the Lake County Office on Aging, the Geauga Department of Aging, Hospice of the Western Reserve, Schraff and King Co. LPA and Lake Hospital Systems — to identify needy seniors who could benefit from this program.

Paper ornaments are hung on the trees, indicating the first name of a senior and his or her needs, such as clothes, laundry soap, personal hygiene items, blankets and food gift certificates. Home Instead Senior Care volunteers collect, wrap and deliver the presents.

“The success of the program has been due to the overwhelming community support, purchasing the needed items and placing them under the tree,” Kovatch says. “This is a very important part of the program, as it presents the opportunity to increase community awareness of a much-overlooked group of our society during the holiday season.”

The “Be a Santa to a Senior” program collected 432 gifts for 186 seniors in 2004. Last year, the company delivered more than 1,300 presents to 498 seniors. The company also doubled its financial commitment to the program, from $10,000 in 2004 to $20,000 last year.

“We can only estimate the priceless time and dollars that the local community dedicated to this project,” Kovatch says.

HOW TO REACH: Home Instead Senior Care, (440) 729-5888