Love Living at Home joins YMCA to expand services

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On Nov. 1, Love Living at Home (LLH) joined the YMCA as a collaborative member and partner to expand health and wellness offerings for LLH members and develop joint programs for both LLH and YMCA members, all to help improve the lives of seniors living in Tompkins County.

The collaborative membership allows LLH members to use all YMCA facilities and attend programs and classes at no additional cost to them, according to a recent press release.

Love Living at Home was established in October of 2016 as a nonprofit serving residents 62 years of age and older, modeled to help seniors stay in their homes comfortably for as long as they’d like with the help of a network of volunteers and employees.

Cheryl Jewell, executive director of Love Living at Home, said it’s important to have this unique organization in the county to provide seniors with everything from activities to occupy their day to volunteers to clean their gutters.

“We help fill the gaps that there are for folks 62 and older in Tompkins County,” Jewell said. “It’s not only just for people to be able to stay in their homes, but it’s also for folks that want to get out and be a part of another type of community.”

Jim Darnieder has done a lot of repairs as a volunteer handyman for the organization, and he said he loves being able to help and see how LLH can change lives.

“It’s rewarding from the standpoint that our members really, really appreciate what we do,” Darnieder said.

Since its foundation, Frank Towner, executive director of the Ithaca YMCA, approached LLH to aid the organization in its mission to help seniors live long, happy, healthy lives.

“I felt strongly that the YMCA service, culture, connectivity of our seniors would fit right into their model of keeping physically fit, active, older adults in their homes,” Towner said. “This would be a great place for them to come be with other active, older adults and stay healthy.”

On a more personal level, Towner saw the benefit of having an organization like LLH in his community as he ages in it.

“I was inspired because I’m not as young as I used to be, and I want to stay in my house, and to do that, I need to be fit, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to call on an organization or a volunteer who’s going to help me repair the gutter?” Towner said.

The YMCA and LLH have always maintained that relationship, Towner said, but it wasn’t until earlier this month that they were able to solidify the collaborative membership. Jewell said she and Towner had several meetings to collaborate on how best to help both organizations meet their similar missions. Towner said the membership is mutually beneficial for both YMCA and LLH.

“We’re at that sweet spot where we serve our mission by providing this opportunity, and in return, hopefully we get financial support, we get moral support, we get people who bring other family members to the Y, so it works hand in hand,” Towner said.

Darnieder said LLH’s collaborative membership can help YMCA and LLH members to interact and establish that connection that is so important for health as we age.

“We’re all about community, and that’s what the Y is about, too,” Darnieder said. “It’s getting that number that know each other, that socialize together, that go to exercise programs together, just continuing to build that so that we have more of a sense of connectivity.”

Because LLH pays one lump sum for all its 140 members to use the Y for free, the membership does represent a significant risk for the YMCA, as it could mean lost revenue if enough people from LLH use YMCA services. However, Towner said, it was well worth that risk.

“It’s a gamble. Are they all going to come and use the facility every day? No,” Towner said. “There’s a lot of people in their roster, but they don’t all come at once, and they don’t all come at all.”

Towner said the membership, even if the majority of LLH members don’t use it, can help all those who take advantage of it by connecting them with others in a way that’s beneficial for their mental and physical health.

“To live independently, you need to be physically and mentally able to perform those functional tasks that continue in your life,” Towner said. “The ability for these folks who might not otherwise afford a membership the ability to come here through their relationship with LLH improves the whole community.”

Teresa Morehouse, assistant executive director of the Ithaca YMCA, added that this partnership can help to increase membership on both sides, especially as the number of YMCA members ages 85 and older continues to expand.

“[LLH] themselves have seen membership grow depending on who they are collaborating with overall, and I think with the Y being another offering that is included in their membership with Love Living at Home, I think that their membership will grow,” she said. “It will grow them as well as us.”

Darnieder said he’s looking forward to this collaborative membership and how it can help LLH continue to grow and help more people.

“It gives our potential members just one more reason to join in and take advantage of,” he said. “I’m excited about all the people who are excited about us.”

LLH membership is available to anyone living in Tompkins County who is 62 or older at $450/year for individuals or $575/year for a household. Scholarships are available.

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