Louella Streitz wants you!

Roosevelt Island Seniors and Homebound Rely On DASH

David Stone
Louella Streitz visits with 95 year old Nina Claremont
Louella Streitz visits with 95 year old Nina Claremont
Photo courtesy DASH

"I realized this was my calling and life," says Louella Streitz. Jack Resnick, the "Roosevelt Doctor," may have known it first. When he asked her for the second time, she couldn't say, "No."

Born at the "Roosevelt Doctor's" Office

The time was 2009, and again, Louella Streitz's attention was drawn to the request for volunteers she saw on her doctor's desk.

A core element of Dr. Jack Resnick's practice finds him making house calls on seniors and others physically unable to come to his office on Main Street. He's even been spotted riding his bicycle across the Roosevelt Island Bridge to care for homebound in nearby Queens.

Daily reminded of needs that can't be met by his or any medical practice, Resnick encouraged Streitz to help. An unseen homebound population suffered silently, unable to complete tasks you and I take for granted, but also, importantly, often lacking contact with others and the rewards of friendship.

DASH, Disabled Association Support for Seniors and Homebound, was born into a mission on Roosevelt Island, that day.

DASH

Ordinary tasks like writing and posting letters or paying bills require skills that may have been lost, and knowledge about how things like cable television or social security function isn't as universal as you may think.

Streitz and her small team of volunteers help with routine tasks, but they also take time to get seniors to appointments safely. Every day, they fan out to take Roosevelt Islanders out for walks, building relationships with benefits that go beyond exercise..

In acts of almost incalculable human kindness, DASH arranges for Girls Scouts to sing Happy Birthday to otherwise isolated individuals, an act made sweeter by Wholesome Factory, which donates flowers and birthday cupcakes.

Helping In Daily Life

A one-time graphic designer for UNICEF, Streitz left that career to became a stay at home mom before she heard the call in 2009. Operating without a budget, she organizes and operates DASH, which serves about fifty seniors and homebound residents, more when special, one-time requests come in. 

With grocery shopping, picking up meds and a myriad of other needs, Streitz relies heavily on Ana Celia Bites, a Southdown resident who "does all the legwork."

"She's my angel," Streitz says.

Another angel is Dr. Resnick, who has continued to support the mission he helped her start.

"He gives us free advertising in the Main Street WIRE to let people who need us know we're there."

Dr. Resnick also includes a page devoted to DASH on his website.

Needs

Streitz believes she reaches only about 20% of Roosevelt Islanders who can use DASH's help. Some of that is brought on by a lack of awareness and communication. Sometimes, it's about pride. 

"Males do not easily accept help," she acknowledges.

Things are changing for the better now that Carter Burden Center for the Aging has assumed management of the Roosevelt Island Senior Center. Outreach has increased, and there has been an uptick in men dropping by the Center for meals and classes.

“So happy we have them here," Streitz says of the Carter Burden team headed by Lisa Fernandez. "I can work closely with them. I love the positive energy here.”

Coupled with expanded outreach for those who can benefit from DASH's services is a need for volunteers who can bring their gifts of compassion and caring to the community. DASH needs folks who will be rewarded with appreciation by needy seniors and new homebound friends. Sometimes, all that's expected of a volunteer is serving as traveling companion for a trip to the doctor's office or delivering prepared meals to doorways. Or, you might be asked to help write a letter and make sure it gets dropped in the mailbox with the right postage.

Traditionally, Roosevelt Island has a large homebound population and many others with limited mobility. They rely on Dr. Resnick to make medical visits and DASH to volunteer for much of the rest in securing safe and healthful lives in spite of limitations. 

DASH needs you to help to get the job done.

If you can donate a few hours, all you need do is fill out a simple form on this web page and press "SEND" to contact Streitz.

The needs are there. Will you join with DASH in knitting together a stronger community? If you know someone in need, will you tell them DASH is out there, ready to help?

"I'm more involved in building community than anything else," Louella Streitz says with an enthusiastic smile.

She needs you to lend a hand in the ongoing construction.

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