JP@Home group to help seniors live at home

October 11, 2013
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Local seniors have created JP@Home, a new grassroots membership group with the mission of keeping aging citizens at home as long as possible. The group, partnering with Jamaica Plain-based Ethos, will be launched at Ethos’s 40th Anniversary Event on Oct. 23.

JP@Home will let members join in a group purchase of such services as home visits and transportation, enabling them to live in private housing rather than a nursing home.

“We’re essentially a buying consortium, like a co-op,” said founding member Sandee Storey, who is also a Gazette columnist. “This is about aging well at home. Living at home is cheaper and more comfortable for most people, and JP@Home will help enable that.”

Ethos is a nonprofit that has been serving southeast Boston’s seniors for four decades. Its mission includes keeping seniors living in private homes as long as possible.

“We’ve come very far in the past 40 years. We’re now a $16 million operation that promotes the dignity and independence of 2,000 elderly and disabled persons, and we’d like to celebrate that at our 40th anniversary event,” said Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos and a JP resident.

“It’s very different when the community itself comes to us saying they want to organize the community around aging issues. I’m very flattered and impressed that they had the confidence and trust in Ethos to reach out,” said Mitchell.

The partnership with Ethos will provide financial support to JP@Home, and a board member of JP@Home will also be able to serve on the Ethos board.

The organization will be able to provide essential social services such as home visits for periods of one hour or four hours, all at discount prices. They will also provide free home safety inspections once a year.

While focused on seniors, JP@Home has no age requirements so it remains open to anyone who might need such services, included people with disabilities.

According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority analysis of 2010 Census data, 17.8 percent of households in Jamaica Plain have at least one resident aged 65 or older. But JP’s senior population also dropped over the past 10 years, which Mitchell previously attributed in part to a lack of senior services.

A difference between Ethos and JP@Home is that the new membership organization will be able to provide support to middle-income seniors, while Ethos currently provides subsidized services to mostly low-income seniors and disabled people.    “There are lots of programs for low-income seniors,” said Storey. “There are almost no programs for middle-income seniors. As soon as you hit $24,000 per year income and above, you pay full freight. No middle ground. Middle-income seniors are in jeopardy.”

JP@Home is similar to another membership program in Boston, Beacon Hill Village, but is different in that it is attached to an existing and established elder services organization that had experience in management, running programs and fundraising.

The price of membership will be $495 a year, or $41.25 a month. The fee will cover a menu of things that seniors might need free of charge, and then will allow them to be eligible on a discounted fee basis for other services.

Storey said that the organization could also be compared to insurance, since members might not need many services one month but might have an accident another month and really need the support.

Original members of the ad hoc JP@Home committee are Elsa Bengel, Arva Clark, Tottie Gelbspan and Sandee Storey. they have been joined by Ann Anderson, Beverly Arsem, Rosemary Jones, Alison Bengel Sisk and John Wicker.

For more information, call 617-522-9042, e-mail jpathome@ethocare.org or see a fact sheet and video at ethocare.org/jpathome.html.

Best of JP 2014