There's no place like home.
Project Living Independently through Volunteer Efforts, better known as Project LIVE, strives to advocate for this fact.
By assisting seniors in Knoxville and Knox County in various capacities, Project LIVE seeks to help seniors remain in their preferred residence.
Created by the Knoxville-Knox County Office on Aging, the program operates through the combined efforts of grant money and volunteers from the community. Seniors requesting help from the program are evaluated, then given assistance tailored specifically to each person's current circumstances.
"We complete independent living assessments on each person we serve, and whoever may need extra assistance with something in order to remain independent for as long as possible," said Misty Goodwin, Project LIVE manager. "Once our assessment is completed, we link seniors with local community resources that can meet those needs.
"This may be anything from food stamps, utility assistance, companionship or housekeeping."
The program's primary mission lies in serving "homebound seniors who have limited support systems and who are unable to pay for necessary minor home repairs or safety modifications to be able to stay safely in their own homes," according to the Office on Aging's website.
Materials, including housekeeping supplies, electrical appliances and movement-assistance tools, such as safety rails and walkers, are purchased by the program and distributed to staff and volunteers who assist in whatever manner required.
Established 31 years ago, the program traces its roots to a single act of kindness.
"When the program initially began there was only one individual working for Project LIVE who had one assistant," said Ashley Rex, volunteer coordinator for Project LIVE. "These two individuals assisted a small number of local seniors in need with transportation, delivering medication and running errands.
"The program was cut and when it aired on the news, a woman who was unemployed called in to offer herself as a volunteer to keep the program functional and assist the seniors in need."
Project LIVE relies on this spirit of volunteerism to provide day-to-day care.
"Volunteer opportunities include yard maintenance," Rex said, "and with autumn beginning, there will be opportunities for volunteers to assist local seniors with raking leaves and removing debris from the yard, as this proves to be one of the most difficult chores for a senior to do during this season."
Even with Knox County's rising cost of living and increased senior population, Goodwin said the program is doing its best to coordinate and distribute limited supplies.
"We prioritize our referrals and try to handle all cases that come in as a crisis – i.e. someone is without utilities, food, medication, losing their housing," Goodwin said. "This is quite the balancing act, since most all of our referrals are crisis referrals. We keep things running smoothly by having a knowledgeable, dedicated staff and several interns through the University of Tennessee who help out tremendously."
The program also benefits from connections to local charities, philanthropic organizations and private donors.
"We have many partnerships within the community that help us with our mission, including a few private donors who support our program," Goodwin said. "They help us attain professional services that may be needed when a repair job is above the scope of knowledge of one of our volunteers, or to purchase medications for a client if needed. We have also partnered with one local church who is buying one bed for us every other month and this has helped tremendously."
Anyone who is interested in volunteering and wants more information about Project LIVE can call 865-524-2786 and request to speak with the volunteer coordinator or visit the website here.