FULTON, NY – In an ongoing effort to help restore and beautify the city of Fulton, city residents have comprised a group of student volunteers to help enrich the lives of local seniors.
Fulton residents Tammy Bednarz, Jean Perry, Debbie Ely, Connie Ward, and Steve Ward concocted the idea to include G. Ray Bodley High School students in a volunteer group to help seniors in need as they continue cracking down on city officials to restore Fulton to its former glory.
Regularly attending meetings of the city’s Common Council and submitting code complaints on negligent houses throughout the city, the student volunteer group was yet another form of remedy developed by this group of residents to help seniors who may not be able to keep up with their yard work or keep their homes in compliance with city code.
“This organization was started with the hopes of Fulton community members renewing city pride and promoting safe and appealing neighborhoods. We want to achieve this goal through working with motivated citizens, organizations and officials,” Bednarz said.
The goals of the organization are to form connections and partnerships in the community, support existing housing codes, particularly the new codes for non-owner occupied rental properties, and to create opportunities for individuals, especially students, to help homeowners that are elderly or may not have the physical ability to perform small scale homeowner responsibilities, she added.
Whether it be due to limited mobility or the financial restraint of a fixed income, students in need of volunteer hours, involved in sports programs, or just kids looking to help make a difference are now becoming a part of the newly structured Community Neighborhood Improvement Coalition (CNIC), and are helping seniors in any way they can.
Students have worked together to help seniors in ways such as mowing lawns, trimming shrubs, raking leaves and sweeping porches and walkways.
City councilors were active in helping determine which seniors in their wards may need help as well as being present to speak with homeowners and thank the students for their hard work.
“It was an opportunity for the students to provide free yard work to homeowners needing assistance while creating a positive effect in various neighborhoods. The students met each homeowner and gained an understanding as to why they were helping these individuals,” Bednarz said. “This opportunity engaged students with members of the community while creating an immediate and lasting effect on all those involved.”
Another volunteer opportunity came to GRB sophomore Evlynn Cappelletti when she was able to help Prudence Bronson, a third ward senior citizen, to decorate her home for the fall season.
Rather than general maintenance of the house or yard, Cappelletti was able to use art to help Bronson, 84, decorate her yard and enjoy the festive spirit of Halloween.
Cappelletti painted three pumpkin yard displays and delivered them to Bronson, who had no yard decorations despite her commitment to hand out hundreds of pieces of candy on Halloween night.
She was able to combine two things she really enjoys- painting and helping people, Cappelletti said.
Bronson, who moved to her home in Fulton in 1989 after retirement, was overjoyed by the gesture.
“This is so nice, I’m so glad you thought of me,” she said.
Bronson lost her husband three years ago and has been maintaining her home by herself ever since.
It is gestures such as this that solidify her belief that Fulton is still where she belongs.
“I am happy we came here. I love it here and I would never leave,” she said.
Third ward councilor Donald Patrick Jr. said Bronson sits on her porch with a blanket every Halloween no matter the weather and hands out hundreds of pieces of candy to local kids.
Her commitment to Halloween is both fun and admirable, he said, making it easy to select her to receive decorations that she otherwise may not have the means to purchase or put up.
“We have to take care of our neighbors, especially our elderly” Patrick said.