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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local May 28, 2016


9/3/2013 2:46:00 PM
Portrait of a Verde Valley Caregivers volunteer
Norm Francisco
Norm Francisco

Norm Francisco remembers the day he was introduced to Verde Valley Caregivers as if it had just happened yesterday.

"It was in 2011 that a volunteer came to my house and told me about Verde Valley Caregivers." Since the start of his volunteer career with the organization, Francisco has touched the lives of 47 seniors in need. Many of these seniors have required repeat visits or services that Francisco has offered happily and enthusiastically. "When I finish with an assignment and the neighbor is smiling and I am smiling it makes me feel great. I feel that I am worthy of something ... worthy of the human race."

Since 1992, Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition (VVCC) has provided volunteers, programs, and services to support adults in need of assistance in maintaining their independence and quality of life at home. In their first year of service, 50 volunteers provided transportation to 80 adults in need. In the past six months, 300 volunteers provided services to over 1,700 neighbors in need. Around the country, there are many programs that serve seniors in a similar fashion. What makes Verde Valley Caregivers distinct is that it is the only program in the country that offers services for free. Francisco is a part of a unique volunteer corps that addresses the needs of homebound seniors in the Verde Valley.

"Norman is a prime portrait of the caliber of volunteers that we have at Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition. He has great attention to detail, is sharp, dedicated, committed, and most importantly, has a generous and compassionate heart," said Natalia Molina, operations manager. Molina oversees operations of the organization and is charged with volunteer recruitment. By next year, VVCC hopes to engage at least 200 new volunteers. Molina shared that in the Cottonwood area alone, VVCC serves over 943 senior neighbors with a volunteer pool of 60 volunteers.

"I go on visitations, perform handy work, go food shopping with neighbors and I even play cribbage with one of my neighbors, " shared the WWII veteran. Francisco has been a Clarkdale resident since 1999. A native of Michigan, he was raised on a farm with his four brothers and parents. "I think that every child should grow up on a farm. We raised all kinds of vegetables and livestock," Francisco said with a twinkle in his eye.

Francisco entered the service when he was 18 years old and served as a fire controlman, 3rd class, where he was charged with firing guns. He served aboard the USS Atlanta in the Pacific for 2 years, one month, and eight days. He was married while in the service to Dottie Irene for 61 ½ years and had three daughters, including a set of twins.

When asked why he would recommend someone to volunteer at Verde Valley Caregivers, Francisco philosophically said, "You have to have a certain quality of character to be a volunteer with Verde Valley Caregivers. If you care about people the way I do, I encourage them to join."

There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available at Verde Valley Caregivers and the schedule is very flexible. "We work with our volunteer's schedules and assignments. No one is tied to volunteering with us week to week. Although many get hooked after they form bonds with their senior neighbors," adds Molina.

Francisco and Molina shall be talking more about VVCC at a series of workshops being sponsored by OLLI of Sedona & the Verde Valley's fall presentation.

To find out more about volunteering at Verde Valley Caregivers Coalition or the upcoming workshops, please call Molina at (928) 204-1238 or email nataliamolina@vvcaregivers.org.

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