LEWISTON, ID -- Getting older. It's something we all have to face, but it can be a frightening experience, especially if you're faced with having to give up your independence.
According to the U.S. Census, the baby boomer generation is aging at such a rate, by the year 2030 those 65 and older will account for 20% of the population. Thankfully there are some KLEW Community Heroes who are willing to go the extra mile.
Theresa Wessels' home near Lewiston High School sings with color and bloom. She knows how to make beautiful things grow - including what grows between two people in a car ride conversation.
"That must have been an emotional and wonderful job..." Theresa chats with Diane, who sits next to her as they take the short trip to Rosauers.
"They're in my car for ten minutes and I hear all about their life,” Theresa laughs. “How they got to Lewiston, where their children are, their relationship with their children..."
Wessels has been a volunteer driver for Interlink for four years. She gives around two rides a week.
"I've always worked with seniors in my career and after I retired, felt like a good way to give back,” she says.
"Interlink has actually been serving the valley for 30 years to enable elders and those with disabilities to live more independently in their homes,” Interlink executive director Deborah Snyder says.
From their little office on Clarkston's main street, Interlink coordinates minor home repairs, yard work, and safety modifications to keep people in their homes. Last year they built 22 wheelchair ramps.
"Over 400 clients right now and the average age of our clients is 71 years old,” Snyder explains. Their biggest service is transportation, from medical appointments to hair appointments.
“In 2017, Interlink gave 6,500 rides,” Snyder says.
It's Theresa's first time giving Diane a ride; a quick trip to Rosauers for cat food. There’s idle chit-chat about her pets and past job, but the conversation also touchs on more serious topics. “Not being independent right now is not a choice i'd make for myself,” Diane admits.
Though an upcoming surgery could put her back behind the wheel, Diane says she’s been grateful to have Interlink drivers for the last two years.
"I think a lot of older people are really fearful of giving up the ability to drive because it can be really isolating. So it's just really great to know that i can help them get to where they need to be,” Theresa says.
While Interlink partners with church groups and community organizations for projects, it's a group of 60 volunteers who really make it work.
That's why from Alisha at the front desk, to Theresa in the drivers seat, to every volunteer and employee working to link people with their community, Interlink volunteers are community heroes going the extra mile and providing a little extra support along the way.
“It's such an honor for us to serve the community...I've got goosebumps, I'm so excited,” Snyder laughs.
For more on Interlink and their services: http://interlinkvolunteers.org/