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Oliver: RaSkAls aim to keep good going for area seniors

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The McHenry area may see an increase in random acts of kindness thanks to Elmer Larson.

Larson, who was in his 90s when he moved into Fox Point Independent and Assisted Living in McHenry, is the inspiration for a new group called RaSkAls – Random Acts of Kindness Affecting Local Seniors in McHenry County.

The group’s goal is to reach out to local seniors and other needy individuals in the McHenry and Crystal Lake areas to help them where they need it most, said Kelly Raske, a senior living consultant at Fox Point and the program’s creator.

Raske came up with the program when she would sit with Larson while he was hospitalized. Larson had no family in the area, and she didn’t want him to have to be there alone.

Many seniors in the area could use someone to sit with them, to read to them or to just have someone to shovel their walks in the wintertime, Raske said. And with the tough economy, many are struggling and could use a boost, too.

That’s where the RaSkAls come in.

Since the program began in November of last year, the group of 12 volunteers so far has helped 23 seniors.

Some of the “acts” have been to deliver fruit baskets to PADS, to bring handwritten cards to nursing homes, to drop off banana bread and coffee to senior groups, and to make cookie deliveries, Raske said.

“Little things like that,” she said.

Raske, who serves as the coordinator for the group, also tries to partner needy seniors with the services they need, such as counseling.

One group member’s husband plows driveways, so he’s been able to do that, as well, Raske said.

So far, the efforts to expand the group have been promising, with the addition of volunteers from other area nursing homes and home-health agencies, as well as student groups from schools and churches.

You are invited to help them, too.

Can you read to a senior? Sing? Provide a ride to a dialysis appointment?

“You don’t have to be a [certified nursing assistant],” Raske said.

Or maybe you know of a senior or other needy individual in the McHenry or Crystal Lake areas who could use a little help. Raske would like to hear from you, too.

Prospective volunteers and those who’d like to nominate someone for some help can stop in at Fox Point Independent and Assisted Living, 3300 Charles J. Miller Road, McHenry. Or contact Raske by phone at 815-385-9840 or by email at kraske@crlcares.com.

If you’d like to learn more about the RaSkAls group, Raske will be speaking about the group at a session at 10:15 a.m. March 27 at the McHenry Township Senior Center, 3519 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg.

Sadly, Larson died last August, but the idea he inspired has the potential to help a lot of worthy area seniors.

“Elmer sparked it,” Raske said, citing Larson’s positive attitude despite a lot of health problems.

And now it’s our turn to keep the good going.

• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at joliver@shawmedia.com.

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